Burr's Greatest Hits

Short stories by Burr Cook



Copyright 2013 Burr Cook

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ISBN:  978-1-304-28172-2




Six Wagons to Laramie - A Western Novel by Burr





     This Story is almost entirely fictitious. As my readers know I try to write historical novels, so there are some known people mentioned herein. The facts surrounding these historical figures are true to the best of my ability. The names of these folks are as follows: General Sherman Civil War veteran; Kit Carson Indian scout; N. K. Boswell rancher and Sheriff of Albany county, Wyoming Territory; Rollie “Hard Luck” Harrison, prospector, Big Steve Long, Outlaw Marshal of Laramie City and his two half brothers Ace and Con Moyer; William Pitt for whom the city of Pittsburg was named; George Donner who led the Donner party on a disastrous journey over the Sierras. The Donner party had even resorted to cannibalism so that a few could survive. I, at least twice drove through Donner Pass on my way between Reno and Sacramento on Interstate 80 through Truckee, California. Tire chains were required in order to make it over the Sierras at that point.

     Also, historically significant was the Zane family including the famous Elizabeth “Betty” Zane, Ebenezer Zane, their parents and siblings; The Wetzel family including the man known as Wetzel who loved Betty Zane. Especially interesting is the historical trilogy written by the famous author Zane Grey who was descended from Ebenezer Zane and was related thus as a grand nephew to Betty Zane. The trilogy begins with a book entitled “Betty Zane” which was Grey’s first published work.

      The descriptions of the Overland trails and points of interest along the route are somewhat real.

     All other names are strictly fictitious as well as the incidents surrounding them.

     Now and then I feel like telling a story. I have always liked telling stories. I shall try to do that on these blank pages in front of me. I am not sure of all the details of the story as yet. It is still being told to me by some outside force. First a gate is opened in the cosmos and lets it come rushing in. I am thinking that this tale will need something in the way of introduction. This will serve to introduce the story to me as well as you the reader.

     Back around 1990, just prior to my retirement which started in 1991, my contract computer consulting business took me to Kansas City, Kansas. I lived for several months in a rented apartment in Overland Park, Kansas. The City got its name from the Overland Trail that started there. My business, Cook House Computer Company, took me to all of the fifty states and ten foreign countries. Aside from a several month contract in Riverside California, Kansas City was the longest time I spent in any one place. So I had the opportunity on a few occasions to drive to these locations because I did not want to rent a car for such a long period. The idea for today’s story came from those experiences and will deal with the westward migration following the Civil War.

     The westward trails such as the Oregon/California, The Mormon Trail and The Overland Trail were well traveled by the end of the war. The Oregon Trail actually began at Kansas City or more correctly Independence Missouri, a suburb. The gold rush of 1849 was when the routes really took shape. I got to see more of the Oregon Trail when I did some contract work for the Idaho Fish and Game Department at Boise.





     The Hansom family lived in New York City throughout the Civil War. The parents William and Marilyn lived with their two children a son Jack and a daughter Carla. Jack had recently returned from the war. He served under General Sherman as a ranking officer and was awarded medals. The daughter Carla was barely twenty years of age and had worked as a nurse in an army hospital.

     Just why they had decided to leave New York and go west was something they couldn’t tell you but they had made the decision and were pretty much prepared to leave. It was early spring of 1867.

     The family was not extremely wealthy but they were considered to be fairly well to do and were more than able to purchase a couple wagons, with canvas covering to keep out the weather, and to buy horses. Their plan was to make those purchases at Kansas City. They did not know that in a couple more years there would be a railroad completed all the way to the west coast. 

     Their journey began with a train ride to Philadelphia. They were leaving in early spring so as to avoid the mistakes made by those who went their own way such as the Donner Party in 1846, which took far too long getting over the mountains. Many of them perished as they were caught in the Sierra winter. It was much wiser to get off to an early start and to stick with the known routes.

      The Hansom family detrained at the station in Philadelphia where they stayed at an Inn for two nights while sight seeing and making arrangements and some purchases for the next leg of their journey. At one time this had been the nation’s capitol and among the many sights to see was the liberty bell with its crack. They learned that the Greek meaning of the city’s name, Philadelphia, is “The City of Brotherly Love”.

      From this famous city they found themselves on a train headed for Pittsburgh over tracks with more ups and downs. This railway followed the path of an old highway that was first used to any great extent during the French and Indian War and also was very useful during the Revolution. They past the famous battle field at Gettysburg where so many perished on both sides in the Civil War. The latter portion of the trip from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh was a little more mountainous than the straight path through New Jersey and the three hundred plus miles of Pennsylvania took them over a winding route while avoiding climbing Appellation Mountains. There were even a couple of tunnels to pass through.

     At Pittsburgh they encountered many travelers hurrying to secure positions on Steamers heading down the Ohio River. People were arriving in Pittsburgh from several directions. Many came from Virginia by way of the Potomac and the Monongahela River and some arrived by way of the Allegany River from upstate New York. There were also many arriving via previously untraveled overland routes, some with the idea of continuing the journey by boat on the Ohio River.

     Some facts they found about the trip were that the steamships and barges traveled from here to Louisville Kentucky before a falls made it necessary to disembark briefly before continuing by connecting with another waiting boat. This falls was the only interruption in the route from Pittsburgh to Cairo where they connected with the Mississippi River. At Cairo Illinois the Mississippi’s size was more than doubled by the convergence. The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi. Including the Allegheny River further upstream it is approximately 981 miles long.

     Some of the travelers came by covered wagons and planned to board barges with all of their supplies. The Hansoms planned to purchase what they would need in Kansas City. There were also some who were journeying overland from here.

     The indigenous people of the Ohio River valley built major earthwork mounds such as Angel Mounds near Evansville, Indiana. The Osage, Omaha, Ponca and Kaw lived in the Ohio Valley, but under pressure from the Iroquois to the northeast, they migrated west of the Mississippi River to Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma in the 1600s.

     The Hansom family found the history of Pittsburgh to be fascinating. Firstly it was founded in 1758 and named in honor of the British statesman William Pitt and was incorporated as a borough in 1794 and chartered as a city in 1816. The Fort Pitt Blockhouse, dating to 1764, is the oldest extant structure in the City of Pittsburgh. A great fire burned over a thousand buildings in 1845, but the city rebuilt. By 1857, Pittsburgh's 1,000 factories were consuming 22,000,000 bushels of coal yearly. The Civil War boosted the city's economy with increased production of iron and armaments.

     Following the Ohio River they actually had to travel to the northwest for a distance before the river nearly made a complete u turn and headed southwest to Wheeling in West Virginia a state that had recently been formed from Virginia. It was formed from that portion of Virginia that sided with the Union during the War Between the States.

     At Wheeling the travelers were joined by parties that arrived by way of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) which had connected Wheeling to markets back to the port city of Baltimore, Maryland and stimulated development.

     The Hansom family, after visiting the memorial to Betty Zane while stopping in Wheeling, had an uneventful steamboat ride on to Louisville. The falls there made it necessary to travel a short distance over land to join another craft.

     At Paducah, Kentucky they were joined by a southern family by the name of Riley who had come partially by land and partially by the Tennessee River which was only navigable some of the way. They came from Atlanta with seven children ages five through seventeen and were quite poor compared to the Hansoms. Their names were Harold and Jill and they soon became good friends with William and Marilyn. Jack Hansom suddenly found himself very much interested in seventeen year old Elizabeth Riley who was called Beth for short.

     The two families got well acquainted by the time they navigated up the Mississippi to the Missouri River and on up to Kansas City.


Chapter I The Journey


     The families spent a few days in Kansas City purchasing supplies, wagons, guns, horses and a long list of things they had thought about all the way from the east to the very center of the continent.

     When they visited a wagon factory Bill Hansom noticed that Harold Riley was looking at a wagon that was far too small for his family of nine. Bill had planed on buying two large wagons and six horses. He wanted two teams and two spare horses. He planned on Jack driving one team and he the other.

     Before either family made a wagon purchase they decided to sleep on it and make the deal in the morning.

     Bill had bought two large tents which he shared with the Riley family that night. He talked things over with Marilyn after dinner and they decided that they liked the new friends as traveling companions and they could use the help of the many hands, all big enough to do some work. So it was decided that he Bill Hansom would buy three large covered wagons and allow the Riley couple to hook their horses to one of them. They could make use of the extra wagon when they got to Oregon or where ever they stopped. So Harold bought four horses instead of the three he had planned on. This he did to help offset the additional expenditure made by Bill and they both knew that they would need the extra horses and the children could take turns riding them. There wouldn’t be enough sleeping room for the entire Riley family in the wagon but the kids thought they would enjoy sleeping under the wagons and in case of bad weather they had the tents. So the two families were joined almost as one.

     They found the other wagons forming a caravan at Independence Missouri from where they planned to depart in another day to join a much longer train at Atchison, Kansas where the railroad terminated.

     The caravans travelled together in large bands mainly because the Civil War had forced the U.S. Army to move its regular soldiers from forts and outposts along the Oregon Trail to the east and replace them with volunteers. As a result, Native American raids on the trail intensified during the war. This present group of emigrants was especially concerned about rumors of raids by Cheyenne, Arapaho and Sioux Indians around the area of the Laramie Plains in Wyoming that they would be passing through by mid summer. These Native Americans had gathered in the area partly due to changes in the locations of buffalo herds. They later learned that the forts were now populated with regular army personnel and Indian raids were not that frequent anymore. 

      The travelling to Atchison went well and the two families worked together as one. They arrived at mid day just in time to witness the huge dust cloud kicked up by horses and wagons as far as the eye could see. They thought that they had seen a long train leaving Kansas City but this was more than doubling the size of the group.

     As they merged in with the existing train they nodded to the neighboring Waggoner’s. All seemed friendly. After a few hours of riding Jack and his sister Carla grew tired of the wooden wagon seat and saddled a couple horses to ride along. One of the Riley boys, a 12 year old by the name of James took Jack’s place driving for a while.

      Shortly before stopping for the night they were joined by two riders who came along side of their wagon and said howdy to Bill and Marilyn. A couple of the Riley children were riding behind them. The men introduced themselves as the wagon master Buck Benson and his assistant Larry Lownds. They wanted to know how many were traveling in the party and were introduced to both families. They made a list of their supplies, wagons, animals and most everything. Buck was a very tall and very handsome man and he showed a great interest in Carla who didn’t appear to mind. In fact she kind of liked the attention and called Buck by his first name when she asked if he came by often.

     “Now that I’ve met you, Carla, I am sure that I will.” He said with a tip of his hat.

     Buck had a very impressive gun belt that hung low on his hip and was well loaded with bullets all the way around. Before he left them he said “Our next stop will be at Fort Kearny where we will spend a day. They have a good trading post and sell most everything anybody might want for the rest of the trip. It is the best of its kind that we will pass. I would suggest that you purchase some larger water kegs while we’re there, you’ll need them in Wyoming. You also might consider a pair of oxen if you can afford them. You may notice that the wagons pulled by ox teams tend to lag behind sometimes but always catch up on the rough spots. They are slow but very powerful and can get your wagons through places that horses can’t. Stay away from mules. Those that use them have had a lot of experience with them. They can be unruly at times. Where are you from?”

     Bill answered “The four of us are from New York and the Rileys are from Atlanta, all nine of them.”

     “Well when we get to Wyoming watch for rattle snakes. I here the place is infested with them this year. They can spoil your trip. I see some of the kids are walking barefoot. They’ll be ok as long as they stay with the main group and follow along. Well my stomach tells me it’s about dinner time so I’ll just say good luck to you all for now. Don’t hesitate to call for me if you need anything.” And with that he tipped his hat toward Carla again and rode off.

     Soon the wagons formed a tight circle with plenty of grass in the center for the animals. Many of the horses had been branded and were allowed to roam the pasture formed by the circle. The Easterners had neglected that step temporarily so they tied various colored cloths to their horses, oxen, cows and whatever else they brought along. The Hansoms had left their dog with friends in New York but vowed to pick one up in Fort Kearny.

     When they were about a third of the way from Atchison to Fort Kearny a family that followed behind the Hansoms by the name of Jenson decided to turn back. They were poorly supplied and had very little funds. They did have a team of oxen and two horses. The Jensons wanted to sell their oxen and wagon. The wagon was small but Bill wanted to add to his supplies at the trading post in Fort Kearny so he made Ed Jenson a decent offer for the team and wagon along with most of his supplies. There were three of the Jensons and they had two horses so Bill through a horse into the mix and closed the deal. He now owned four wagons. The Jensons just took what they would need for a three day ride back to Atchison where they planned to take a train to Kansas City and find work. Ed planned to work for another year before starting west again.

    For the next two days all was peaceful for the travelers. They alternately rode on the wagons, on horse back and walked along. Jack and Carla took the ox team for a while and lagged behind a bit. They were not concerned as they knew they would catch the family again when they hit an up hill stretch. They had a horse tied to the back of the small wagon and Carla soon grew tired of the hard seat and switched over to the saddle for a while.

     It wasn’t long before another rider came along beside her and tipped his hat saying “Howdy miss, I’m Sam Dooly. I am traveling with two other men who I am getting real tired of and thought you might talk with me for a spell.”

     “Well I’m Carla Hansom. I came from New York City where I was taught never to talk with strangers. Maybe my brother Jack up ahead there would like some company.”

     “Jack looks like a fine lad but you are much prettier to look at Carla.”

     “I think that you’re being far too familiar Sam. I think you should ride on back to your friends.” She was still smiling but getting rather irritated.

     “We are kind of stuck together here; A few hundred people alone on a long trip. We can’t afford to make enemies now can we? Most folks in this train are real neighborly. They get acquainted very quickly and easily.” With that said Sam pulled his horse closer to hers and grabbed her hand. “Why don’t we get down and walk a little while so we can talk?”

     Carla was getting a little frightened, “let go of me!” she said a little loud.

     At that point Jack turned and looked back just in time to see Carla pulling away from Sam. Jack was very muscular. He had grown up on the streets of New York and had been through the war. “What’s going on back there?” he exclaimed as he stopped the team and jumped down from the wagon.

     “I can handle this.” Carla answered as she gave Sam a sharp slap.

     At that Sam, still hanging onto her had pulled her down from her mount. Jack grabbed Sam and yanked him from his saddle. Sam was quickly stunned by a jab from Jack’s right fist. Jack bent and gave him a couple more quick punches as he was slipping to the ground where he stayed for a few moments. Before Jack had time to gain composure he heard Carla say; “Look out Jack.” But it was too late. He was attacked from behind and struck on the head by a gun butt. It was one of Sam’s companions. Jack dropped to his knees but got up just in time to see Sam getting up also. Very soon they were all three covered with blood and Jack had fallen again to his knees.

     Sam was helped up again by his companion and dumped into their wagon and the bloody men started their team leaving Jack and Carla’s wagon behind as Carla helped Jack onto the seat of their wagon. Carla tied her horse to the back of the wagon and took the reins. She noted that Jack, now lying in back of the seat, was bloody but most of it was not his blood. He certainly wasn’t badly injured. He had a bump on his head but he was soon composed and alert. Carla thanked him for intervening. She continued to drive the oxen until catching up with the rest of the family finding them already inside the circle of wagons eating dinner. 

    When Bill saw Jack he asked what on earth had happened and Jack told him about the incident. Bill immediately wanted to have it out with the scoundrels but Jack said that perhaps they should tell the wagon master. He said to be sure to inform him of any trouble.

     About the middle of the next day Buck Benson was riding by and stopped to chat with Carla and Jack. He couldn’t help noticing that Jack was a little bit bruised and he asked what had happened. When the story was completed he asked where these men were now and Jack told him that they were up ahead a ways, he thought.

     Buck wanted to talk with Sam and his friends so he had Jack mount up and ride along and help find them. When they found them, Sam and his friend were on horse back and the same third man as before was driving the team. Buck indicated that he wanted to talk so they all dismounted. Buck spoke first saying “I understand that you were disrespectful of the lady, Carla Hansom, yesterday.”

     “Why Hell”, Sam said, “out here in this no mans land there is no time for tip toeing around an issue. I found the lady to be very much to my liking so I told her so. She was enjoying it until her brother here interfered.” Jack stepped closer to Sam at that point but Buck put up his arm to stop him. Sam continued; “just give me a couple more days and I’ll have her in the back of my wagon.”

     Quick as the eye could see Buck gave Sam an open hand across his swollen cheek bone and Sam had drawn his gun from the holster which hung low on his hip. The blast of a forty five split the air and Sam dropped with a thud to the ground and a second blast put his partner next to him. The partner also had a gun in his hand just clear of the holster. Buck was holding a smoking forty five in his hand. Jack did not see where it came from but the holster on Buck’s hip was empty. Jack noted the quickness of the draw. It happened faster than he could see. Buck turned to Sam’s third friend who was watching from the wagon with his hands well away from his weapons. “I see you’ve got a shovel on the side board there. You can bury your partners and continue on alone or turn back. That’s up to you. If you want to continue on I would suggest that you team up with someone by the time we reach the fort.”

     “That’s what I’ll do.” The man said as his hands shook. “I was kind of afraid of those two anyway. My name is Abe Rann, by the way.” 

     Jack got a shovel from his wagon and helped with the burial. He had a good talk with Abe and found him to be a decent human being. He had just been unlucky when he partnered up with the two rascals at Atchison. So Jack invited him to join their party which now numbered five wagons. Abe brought along a team of oxen and three horses. He also brought some experience. He had been around Salt Lake for a year once until the Mormons kicked him out.

     Several more days of travel brought the caravan to Fort Kearny. Jack, it turned out had been correct in trusting Abe as he became a very useful addition to the group. Abe was an honest hard working man with a lot of experience keeping wagons well greased and in good working condition. He suggested buying extra wagon wheels at the trading post, if they could be had. His advice turned out to be very useful later on.

     The wagons formed a circle outside of the fort and prepared to stay two nights and one full day during which time the travelers were very busy making purchases, trading goods and supplies and making needed repairs to wagons. All members of the group tried to think of everything they might need as this was the last trading post they would see for several weeks. This group of fourteen people made a pact to stick together no matter what came up.

     The night before they were to leave the fort preparations were made for an early departure. Buck Benson joined the small group for a good meal cooked by the Hansom and Riley women. He was paying a lot of attention to Carla now and she didn’t mind at all. She found him exciting and handsome. After eating they sat around a roaring big campfire telling stories.

     Carla told about Betty Zane who she had learned about at the memorial in Wheeling. It was a fascinating story which she embellished as much as possible without being untruthful. She was really impressed by the courage of this hero of the American Revolution. She wished that she could be something like Betty. She saw Buck as somewhat like Wetzel.

     The story went something like this: During the fall of 1769, Ebenezer Zane explored the Wheeling area and established claim to the land via "tomahawk rights," a process of marking the bark of some trees with his initials.    

     Fort Henry nearby was made famous by the heroic deeds of the Zane family and the Wetzel family.

      During the revolution there was a siege at Fort Henry during which gun powder was discovered to be in short supply and Betty Zane volunteered for the dangerous task of securing some from the nearby Zane household. After reaching the Zane homestead, she gathered a tablecloth and filled it with gunpowder. During her return, she was fired upon but was uninjured. As a result of her heroism, Fort Henry remained in American control. Elizabeth, Betty, Zane, was thus labeled a heroine of the Revolutionary War. She was the daughter of William Andrew Zane and Nancy Ann Nolan Zane, and the sister of Ebenezer Zane.

    Then Buck talked about his father who traveled with the famous scout Kit Carson. One story that was fascinating to everyone had to do with a real incident in the life of Kit Carson. Buck’s father, Ron Benson, was traveling with Kit at the time and they were camped in the Sonora Desert overnight. It was warm and they each were using one blanket to role up in. When daylight came Ron happened to glance over at Kit and noticed that a very large rattle snake was stretched out right next to him actually touching his blanket. At first he thought that the snake was there for the warmth of Kit’s body but he found out that it was more than that. When he carefully and nonchalantly brought the situation to Kit’s attention all Kit did was roll away from the snake. Ron was sure the snake would bite when Kit moved but instead it simply crawled into a hole in the ground. It turned out that Kit was sleeping on top of the entrance to the snake’s home and the creature just waited for him to vacate the spot so that he could go in and sleep in peace. Buck added that his father swore by the story and there could be no doubt that it happened just that way.

      Just as Buck was saying goodnight to Carla, in a gentlemanly way, he noticed Jack coming out of his personal little sleeping tent. He had a six shooter strapped to his hip much like Buck wore his. He had just purchased it. Buck said “Jack you had better be careful. You don’t know how to use that gun. You are better off without it until you learn. Most wranglers and even gunfighters will not shoot an unarmed man but a man armed that doesn’t know how to use the weapon can be in grave danger.”

     “I was going to ask you Buck, since you’re spending a bit of time in our camp, if you would give me some lessons. I am not a stranger to street fighting. I grew up in New York. I have had a lot of experience with rifles in the Union Army. I only lack experience with the 45 colt revolver but I am sure I can learn fast.”

     “OK, Jack, we will start tomorrow as soon as we stop and while it is still daylight. Let the others set up camp. I need an excuse to intrude on another dinner with you folks. We plainsman were never trained as cooks.” Meanwhile you should buy a lot of extra bullets to practice with.”

     The following night, number 26 since they had left Kansas City, Buck showed up as soon as the wagons were circled and while dinner was cooking he took Jack for a walk. They both were wearing guns. Buck said “we should get behind that ridge over there so that our shooting won’t scare the animals or raise a lot of curiosity.”

     Once they were out of sight of the wagons the lessons began. They started with drawing the gun from the holster. Buck did it with one very easy slap to the leather. He told Jack to raise the gun quicker “once it is clear of the holster, and even though your finger is on the trigger naturally you must be looking down the barrel when you fire. Many would be gun throwers have shot holes in their feet by being too quick. The inexperienced will pull the trigger without aiming. The gun may be pointed in the general direction of the target but they often miss and wind up dead. You may never have seen a gun fight in person but I have and the winner isn’t always the one that shoots first. The winner is usually the guy that aims before he shoots. A lot of practice drawing the gun is necessary, but aiming is just as critical.” So they practiced until a bell was heard that sounded a lot like the one Mrs. Riley brought along for keeping track of the kids. They were sure dinner was ready.

     Buck joined the group for dinner again after which stories were exchanged around the fire. The New York stories were interesting to the Rileys and the Atlanta stories were listened to with awe. The burning of the city by General Sherman’s army was especially exciting. But the stories of the west as told by Buck kept them all wide awake. Buck had made many trips across the country and had been attacked by Indians and outlaw robbers. He assured the group that Indian attacks were very rare, nothing like the stories of the Wild West that sold so well in the east.

     The next few nights found Buck and Jack busy practicing shooting. Targets were set up and filled with holes. Buck told Jack that he was a natural with the pistol. After several lessons Buck said to Jack “I have taught you all I can. All you need now is practice. Keep at it every evening and you’ll soon be a master at throwing a gun. You might need to buy more bullets at the next opportunity.”

     Beth Riley noticed right away that Jack looked really handsome with his new look. He was dressing more like a cowboy and always displayed a colt forty five on his hip with the belt lined with bullets.

     One evening while dinner was being prepared she saw Jack taking a walk and asked if she could accompany him. “Sure why not join me if the sound of gunfire won’t bother you.” So she followed along and watched as Jack practiced drawing his gun and hitting a target. Beth was very excited about what she saw. She was several years younger than Jack and she was very impressionable. She was secretly in love with Jack but never told anyone. She thought they would think she was silly, just a child, they would say.

     When the dinner bell was heard they walked together back to the wagons. After they ate Jack helped feed the animals. After being hobbled they were allowed to graze.

     When the work was done Jack took a walk following the parked wagons thinking he might run into Buck. They were good friends by now. Instead of Buck he met Beth out walking. He greeted her with, “howdy Beth,”

     “Well hello Jack, what’re you doing out here?” She didn’t want to admit that she had seen him leave camp and followed, hoping to talk to him again.

     “I’m not ready for sleeping yet. I’m just walking with nowhere to go.”

     “Me too,” she said. Then she continued in her deep southern drawl “How did you like living in New York?”

     “I was happy there but I think I could get to like the wide open space around here a little better.”

     “There are a lot of people in New York; did you have many lady friends back there?”

     Jack thought for a little while. He wasn’t expecting such a bold question this suddenly. When he answered he decided to be honest. So he said “yes I had several. The last one was kind of serious. We even spoke of wedding plans. But when I was drafted for the military she decided that she didn’t want to wait for me.”

    “Where did you serve in the military?”

    This was a question he was dreading. He didn’t want to say that he was with General Sherman and helped with the burning of Atlanta. So he told part of the truth. “I was an officer and most of the time I had a desk job around Washington.”

     “We had a big fire in Atlanta, they burned all of the public buildings and many people’s homes caught fire and burned. It went on all day and night. The children were screaming and for that matter so were some of the adults. The Confederate army abandoned us. We could do nothing but watch. Even the fireman abandoned us. It was horrible.”

     Jack had never thought about the war from the other side’s point of view before. He agreed with the Union’s cause but felt guilty about Atlanta and he definitely wanted to seal the past when it came to the Riley family.

     Jack wanted to change the subject so he asked “did you have lots of gentleman callers in Atlanta?”

     “Not at all,” she answered. “All of the young men were involved with the war and when it was over Atlanta was over run with Union Soldiers. I did get to know one Yankee who was decent to us and he came to dinner once but the reception he got from my family was not exactly cordial. I was also courted by a young man that I attended school with. He went to war real young and was barely eighteen when he returned.”

     “I suppose you have reason to hate Union soldiers after what they did to your city.”

     “No, I don’t hate. My family brought me up as a church person and I try to forgive. The country must heal itself now. We are going west in order to forget the whole affair. That is one of the reasons that my family agreed to team up with yours.” Beth said this as she found herself walking arm in arm with Jack. She couldn’t remember who took who by the arm first. It just happened and seemed natural and this is the way they approached their encampment.

     Just before entering the circle Jack kissed her on the cheek and Beth responded with a quick kiss on the mouth. After that the after dinner walks became a regular nightly affair and the two became more than just friends.

     Thirty six days into the trek brought the caravan to a small settlement at a place called Courthouse and Jail Rock. There was a larger settlement nearby called Bridgeport. There were not a lot of supplies to be had but the group didn’t really need anything. Jack was able to purchase bullets so he could practice shooting a little more. Many of the younger folks wrote their names on the rocks using whatever could be found including axle grease.

     Chimney Rock could be seen for a full day before they finally arrived there on the forty second day out of Kansas City. The group was impressed by the natural beauty of the place. There was not much of a trading post or store, just a few settlers nearby and some friendly Indians willing to trade furs for just about anything. The group was not impressed by some people’s willingness to take advantage of them.


Chapter II Big Steve Long


     Only one night was spent at Chimney Rock as Buck wanted to spend a couple nights at Fort Laramie where there were soldiers and traders. After spending the second night between the rock and the fort the group had just finished their supper of flap jacks and buffalo steaks when Buck showed up stopping very abruptly next to where Jack was sitting beside Beth with his back against a wagon wheel. “Jack, I need to talk to you alone for a minute!” he shouted from a distance, and Jack got up quickly and walked to where Buck had stopped.

     Buck told Jack what had happened. As wagon Master he had collected a fee for each wagon in order to ensure that they could pay for river crossings. In most cases there were ferries now and they charged for the service. “It appears that my assistant, Larry Lownds, has run off with the money; a substantial amount. I have placed John MacDonald in charge of the train as temporary wagon master and two of my most trusted men, Ben Arnold and Oran Jones are going with me to catch him. Do you want to come with us?”

     Jack didn’t have to think very long before saying yes. So Buck said “grab what you need for a few nights on the trail. We will leave from the lead wagon in one hour and please tell no one why we are going, were just scouting.”  

     So Jack told the group that he was going to help Buck and they may be scouting for a few days. He noticed that Beth was a little worried and he reassured her that it was a safe trip. Then mounting their best saddle horse he rode to the lead wagon and met the other three. They started out in a westerly direction riding in the dark until about midnight when they made camp and slept for a few hours.

     During breakfast Buck explained where they were going and why. “Larry Lownds used to hang out in Laramie City which is about eighty miles south west of Fort Laramie. He has some acquaintances there and I suspect that they may be in on this.”

     “Do you know them?” Oran asked.

     “I know of them and they are very dangerous men. One is the Marshall whose name is Steve Long otherwise known as Big Steve. He has two deputies who are half brothers to him. They are Ace and Con Moyer. Steve is famous as a gun fighter but he is actually just an outlaw with a badge. He has shot more than a dozen men in so called gun fights but it is suspected that it was more like murder. There are usually no witnesses. He never arrests anyone just brings them in dead.”

     Jack interrupted, “and you suspect Larry is meeting them?”

     “That is exactly what I think. I brought you fellows along because you know how to use a gun.” Then Buck officially introduced Ben and Oran to Jack Hansom. “I have been teaching Jack some tricks with a six gun. He was in the war and knows the rifle very well. Drawing quickly and hitting a target is something that can’t really be taught, but for Jack it comes natural although I would rather not try him out on a live target just yet.” 

     As the day progressed Buck seemed to know the trail pretty well and by noon time he had found the tracks of a lone horse which he was sure belonged to Mr. Lownds. “He’s headed for Laramie for sure. I doubt we can catch him before he gets there so we may have to confront the marshal and his men. Johnny MacDonald Knows that we will meet him at Independence Rock or maybe even South Pass if we are not at Fort Laramie and there is no way we can make Fort Laramie before they pass through. I told him to wait a few days at South Pass and if we don’t make it there by that time to just go on. It’ll be close to thirty days from now until they get to South Pass and we are sure to meet them long before that.”

     They arrived at Laramie early in the day and Buck decided that it would be a good time to proceed since they were not likely to encounter the whole gang in town. Another saloon had opened up since Buck was last here. They saw an old Indian sitting on a bench outside of the new one and Buck was able to speak with him. It turned out that both saloons belonged to Big Steve Long and the Indian was sure that he was in one or the other but not sure which. The Indian did not know Larry Lownds.

     It was decided that Buck and Ben would take the first saloon and Jack would enter the other with Oran. Buck said emphatically that they should avoid confrontation but if Larry was seen they should just keep an eye on him until all four were together again. If we don’t find him in one place we should proceed to the other and join up again.

     As Buck and Ben entered the New City Saloon Jack and Oran proceeded to the Laramie City Saloon. They entered through swinging doors and observed three people at the bar. The place was otherwise empty as it was barely noon time. They placed themselves at the far end of the bar and ordered a drink of whiskey which Jack had decided not to drink. He wanted to keep his wits about him. He remembered from the war that drink gave you nerve but spoiled your aim.

     One of the three men at the other end spoke to them. “Are you fellows new in town?”

     “Just rode in” Oran answered.

     “Are you looking for anybody in particular?”

     “Who is asking?” Jack queried.

     “My name is Steve, Steve Long. I’m the marshal here abouts.” He said as he walked closer to the new comers.

     So Jack took a chance asking “do you know a man by the name of Larry Lownds?”

     “Yes I know Larry. I suspect that you fellows are here to cause trouble and I’m placing you under arrest. If you move your hands as much as an inch you will be dead men rather than prisoners.”

     Jack was sure that this was a bluff but as he glanced at Oran he saw that his gun was in his hand and he was looking at Steve’s two companions. Oran spoke “These two were drawing guns so this is my way of asking them to stop and think on it.” His gun was pointed directly at them as he told them to keep there hands away from their weapons.

     Big Steve was sure that Jack would cower as he said “Draw when ever you are ready or else march out the door and to the jail”. He was interrupted at that point by the blast of a colt forty five. Jack had fired and Steve Long was on the floor not moving.

     Just then Buck and Ben walked in the door with Larry Lownds between them. “Who got shot?” Buck asked.

     “He said his name was Steve Long.” Jack replied.

     “Well Larry says Long has the money.” So the four Wagoner’s and the two friends of Big Steve went into the back room that was Long’s office. There was a safe against one wall and it was locked. So buck looked at one of Long’s buddies and asked his name.

     “I’m Bill Bounds.”

     Buck pointed his gun in Bill’s direction and said “Ben, I want you to accompany Mr. Bill Bounds on a short walk. There are mining companies around here and I know they have dynamite. I want it in ten minutes.”

     Bill said weakly “I don’t know where to find it.”

     Buck was quick to reply “OK Ben, if the Dynamite isn’t here in less than ten minutes, he has used up some of it already, I want you to come back alone. Do you understand?”

     “I understand perfectly.” Ben said “the question now is does Bill understand” as he pointed toward the door.

     Ten minutes later they were planting explosive charges around the safe. When it blew the whole town was alerted so the four guests grabbed everything in the safe and ran for their mounts. They took a few extra minutes to enter a store, also owned by Long. There they supplied themselves with food and ammunition and without paying the bill were soon headed on a trail to the northwest toward Independence Rock. On the way out of town they learned from the old Indian that Big Steve was shot through the shoulder and got a broken leg during the blast and was already being treated by a doctor. Jack said “we will most likely be followed soon by Big Steve’s half brothers Ace and Con along with most of the men in town. We had best run the horses as much as they can stand.  

     Following two hours of steady gallop they came to a ranch house and decided that their horses would drop dead if not rested a little. They had also forgotten to fill their canteens with water before leaving Laramie.

     They found a water trough between the house and the barn and let the horses drink first before the men. They knew they would be dead without the horses. After filling all of their canteens they saw a woman come to the front door of the ranch house. She didn’t look at all threatening so they introduced themselves and soon had an invitation to stay for dinner which they were assured was nearly ready.

     Buck told the group that they may as well eat “It will save us the time needed for cooking later and allow the horses to rest. My guess is that Long is just about coming around now and giving orders.” Then he asked the lady if they could feed their horses before eating. About the time that was done about a half dozen men came riding in from the range land.

     They all sat at an outside table and were served steaks with all the trimmings. Jack was sitting next to an older man and soon engaged him in conversation. He found out that this was the man who had previously owned the ranch. “I still own it legally but I had to sign it over to the marshal.”

     “Why did you do that?”

     “He said we were violating some ordinance and came in with a whole posse and forced us, at gun point, to sign it over to him. He runs it and we work it even though he doesn’t have a legal deed to it. We homesteaded the place so it should be ours.”

     Jack was shocked at that news and soon learned that several other ranches around were taken over by Big Steve’s gang in the same way. “This is some of the best cattle grazing land for many miles around,” the land owner said “and they know that the railroad is soon coming.” Jack soon learned that the rancher’s name was Gus Landers and his wife, the cook, was Sally.

    Jack asked Gus “if I wanted to buy the ranch would you sell it to me?”

     “Sure, but you would have to kill Long first.”

     “I already shot him but unfortunately not fatally. He won’t be up and about for a while though. He’s got a bullet hole through his shoulder and he suffered a broken leg when we blew his safe open.”

     “Are you for real?” Gus asked.

     “Yes but don’t tell anybody that you fed us.”

     Gus nudged his wife and said quietly “this man here wounded Big Steve Long.” Then he looked back at Jack and asked “did you out draw him?”

      Jack wasn’t ordinarily a bragger but couldn’t resist saying; “I wouldn’t be talking to you if I didn’t draw first.”

     The four travelers didn’t waste time after eating before mounting up and thanking the Landers couple. Buck dropped several gold coins on the table as he galloped away. He told his group that he thought they had a lot more money than they had before Lownds ran off with it. They didn’t bother to count it until they stopped to sleep a few hours well past midnight. They felt no guilt about taking Big Steve Long’s money. They had evidently taken quite a bit of his stolen money. Buck wasn’t sure exactly how much they had before Larry took it but he knew that the caravan was much richer now which gave them a far better chance of reaching Oregon City before the snow came.

     They sat around a fire after counting the money and talked for a while before bedding down. Buck said “the wagons will be leaving Fort Laramie in two days. It would take us three to get there so we may as well go on to Independence Rock and wait a few days for them or maybe back track the trail to meet them.”

     Jack said “I like that last idea. I miss my family.”

     Then Buck ejaculated “are you sure it isn’t a young lady that you miss more than the family?”

     “I suppose you aren’t thinking about Carla, Buck old boy.”

     “She’s a lovely lady Jack I have to admit even if she is your sister.”

     “I can see, Buck, even if she is my sister.”

     “Where does that leave Oran and I?” Ben asked.

     “Well you guys, it’s every man for him self when it comes to pretty gals.” Jack answered. And with that they all laughed and rolled up in their bedrolls.

     About the middle of the next day Buck raised his hand as he looked back down a rise they were climbing. He was using his glass and could see that they were being followed by a sizable posse of riders. “We can’t out run them.” He said. “We will have to fight it out. There are some rocks just ahead that we can use for shelter. I know that you guys are good with rifles and we gathered a good amount of extra ammo at Long’s store so let’s give them a welcoming. They don’t have their leader thanks to Jack.”

     Jack was quick to say “I am ashamed of myself for not making it permanent. I shot too quickly. I forgot my lessons.”

     “You did well Jack for your first encounter with a gun fighter.” Buck answered. 

     So they hid behind a good shielding of rock and waited for the unsuspecting followers. The horses were hidden further up the grade where they wouldn’t be alarmed and give them away. Buck told them not to shoot too quickly. “Wait until they actually see us before firing. Then give it all you got. Don’t waist any ammo shooting wild.”

     When the posse finally got close enough to count they were surprised to find less than twenty men. They expected more. One of the posse men finally spotted signs of their presence and shot at a shadow. When the four men let loose it was like a turkey shoot. Ten men lay dead within less than a minute and the rest retreated down the mountainside.

    “I think they’re done Buck shouted let’s get moving. They will come back and bury their dead. Then I suspect they’ll head for home.


Chapter III The Lazy L Ranch


    So with all four men still in tact they continued on to Independence Rock. After verifying that the caravan hadn’t passed through they rested for a day before heading east to meat the train. It was day fifty five from KC when they finally met the oncoming wagons.

     Buck accompanied Jack when he met his family. When Buck saw Carla on horseback they both jumped down from the saddles and embraced. It was the first time Jack had seen them embrace although he knew it had happened before, probably many times.

     When Jack finally saw his family he noticed grim faces and quickly found out what was wrong. A sizable band of outlaws had come to the encampment the previous night asking questions about Jack Hansom and very soon found out who the person was that he was most fond of. It was Beth. They started shooting in the air to scare everyone into the wagons and various hiding places while they grabbed Beth and rode off with her.

     Jack immediately knew that it had to be Big Steve’s men and that they would take her to Laramie.

     It was about time for the wagon train to circle for the night but the small five wagon group decided to stop early in order to have a serious discussion about what to do next. Buck left them to have their meeting and rode back to join the wagon train. Supper was cooked a little early and the group gathered around a roaring fire and talk. After relating the events of the Laramie escapade Jack made it clear that he was going back to find Beth. He was sure that they would not harm her. They were using her to get to him.

     The group unanimously agreed that they all should go together and would start in the morning. Jack said he would ride back to the caravan and see if he could hire a guide and he would be back likely by midnight. So he rode off by him self while the group bedded down to get a good night’s sleep. Carla lay awake for a good long time agonizing over the separation from Buck who she knew loved her and she was also sure the she loved him. She thought of Betty Zane who was separated from Wetzel for a year but he had come back. She was sure that she would some day see Buck again.

     Jack rode into the wagon circle and found Buck, Ben and Oran in a lively discussion. Ben and Oran had decided to accompany Jack to Laramie and Buck had found other assistant wagon masters. It was also decided that Ben Arnold and Oran Jones would have a share of the money that was confiscated from Big Steve Long’s safe so they could pay their way as it could be necessary to remain in Laramie for a while. Also Jack was refunded a portion of what had been paid for what would now be a group of six wagons to the wagon master to cover tolls and fees.  

     They had also come to an agreement that they should first look up Gus and Sally Landers and attempt to make that their headquarters while deciding how to proceed in freeing Beth who had just turned eighteen years of age.

     After a couple more hours of preparation Jack, Ben and Oran returned to the group which was increased by two but minus one for now. Ben and Oran had a wagon and four horses along with all of their own supplies which were considerable. They had been employed as scouts for the wagon train and knew their way around the territory.

     Once the new men were introduced they got a late night snack and bedded down sharing a large tent with Jack.  

     Morning found the group, after a quick but plentiful breakfast, traveling south east with all six wagons and all of their supplies. Even though this was not the fastest way to travel they couldn’t leave their belongings behind. They would surely perish without them. A few days later they were parking the wagons on a grassy plain a few hundred yards from the Landers homestead.

     It was mid day and they were all invited to eat. Once they were all seated around the huge outdoor table Jack explained to Gus why they had come.

     Gus explained the current situation with the ranch “one of Long’s men is coming from Laramie and planning to meet here by late afternoon with the ranch foreman who also works for Long. They are planning on selling off half of my herd.”

     Jack’s reply was “you remember Gus that I told you the last time we talked that I would really like to buy this ranch from you.”

    “I would really like to sell it to the man who shot Big Steve Long.”

     “Well Gus, consider it done. We can talk about the details later but for now I would like to be alone when Long’s men show up.”

     “That’s fine Jack but they expect to be fed when they come.”

     “They will have no appetite today, Gus; for now lets get everyone inside.”

     The group got up from the table and after cleaning up a bit they all gathered inside. All except for Oran and Ben who stayed sitting at the table. Jack looked at them and said “This is not your fight men.”

     Ben spoke up saying “Do you think we came all this way to hide with the women and old folks, Jack? We might want a piece of this ranch you know.” Oran was about to add something but was interrupted when they saw a rider approaching.

     The new arrival dismounted and tied his horse to a rail. He sat across the table from the three travelers and looked at them with an air of importance and exclaimed “I’m Ace Moyer, I work for Marshall Long. And who might you fellows be?”

    “I’m Jack Hansom. I’m the guy that shot your boss. I don’t apologize for that.”

     Ace remained silent for a moment as his expression became a little grim.

     Oran spoke next “keep your hands on the table Mr. Moyer. There is at least one gun pointed at your manhood under the table.”

    Ace stammered “look guys I didn’t come to make trouble.”

    “But you’ve got trouble!” Jack shot back.

    “Look Hansom, I just work for Long. I have to follow his orders. This is his ranch you know.”

    “I just bought the ranch. It belongs to Jack Hansom now.” 

     Just then the foreman rode in and sat with Ace without knowledge of trouble until Jack said “Who are you?”

     “I’m Bart the foreman.”

     “Bart what”? Jack asked.

     “That’s enough.”

     “Ok ‘Bart That’s Enough’ I want you to very carefully place your gun on the table.”

     Bart hesitated and Jack got up and put a fist in Bart’s face leaving him with a bloody nose. “Put both of your guns on the table or you will both die right here and now!” Jack growled as he turned and noticed that Bill Hansom, Harold Riley, Gus Landers and Abe Rann were standing behind him, all carrying rifles and by this time the guns he requested were on the table.

     Jack stood up as he said “Look Bart, or what ever your name is, I want you to be in the saddle in five minutes, that gives you time for a drink of water for you and your horse. Then I want you to make tracks for Laramie. Do you know where Long is?”

     “Yes he is still sleeping on the doctor’s couch.”

     “OK you tell him that I want the girl here by midnight, that’s twelve o’clock. And if she is not here by then his brother Ace here will die. That will happen at exactly midnight.” Then Jack looked at Ace and said “Get up.” And as soon as Ace got up Jack drew his gun, aimed it at Ace’s foot and fired. Ace was suddenly missing a toe and Jack continued “as soon as Ace stops howling I have one more thing to say. Please tell Big Steve Long that after I kill his brother here I will be on my way to kill him. I promise that without batting an eye that I will kill Mr. Long before the sun comes up again no matter how many others I have to take with him. And lastly, by the way, there are thirty five angry men on their way here from the wagon train. Now get going.”

     As soon as Bart left Ben said “I didn’t know anything about men coming from the wagon train.”

     “Neither did I;” Jack said “Neither did I. I just thought it sounded good.”

     Everybody, all at once remembered Ace Moyer who was holding his foot and grimacing with the pain. Jack suddenly felt sorry for him even though he knew that Ace had caused more pain to more people than could ever be repaid. So Jack helped him into the kitchen and asked the women folk to bandage his foot and give him something for the pain. He said “I hope your half brother thinks enough of you to want to save your life. Do you think he will?”

     “You don’t know Big Steve Long. He thinks only of himself. He wants to get even with you. He wants to kill you. He thought you would come for the girl alone. He’s got things set up so that you could not get to him. His men are all over town; what’s left of them that is.”

     Jack asked “Who is guarding the girl now? Certainly Steve Long is in no condition to do much of anything. He was kind of badly wounded.”

     “My brother Con is in charge of the Jail. He will save me I think. Long is in no shape to stop him. At least that’s how I think things will go down.” 

     When midnight came all of the men were sitting at the outside table while the women and children waited inside. There was no sign of Bart as yet. The Landers family had a watch dog who answered to the name Watch so they would know immediately if anyone approached. Jack looked at Ace. “Well, are you ready for your sentence to be carried out?”

     Ace said nothing but Jack’s father spoke up “Jack, you can’t just shoot somebody in cold blood.”

     “We did it in the war;” Jack answered “but I don’t intend to follow through just yet. I think Ace knows I will if anything happens to Beth. But for right now I intend to try sleeping for a couple hours and leave for Laramie at the first sign of daylight. I’m not sure about the trail through the pass and I don’t trust Ace here to lead me.”

    “I’m going with you.” Oran was quick to say. Ben followed with the same exclamation. In fact all of the men said the same.

     Jack was clearly the man in charge of the whole adventure now as he said “Gus you’re an old man. I appreciate your offer but you would slow us down. Dad, you and Riley have families here and we need someone here with rifles to keep watch. Abe can come with us. He knows the west better than the rest of us. Until sun up someone needs to keep an eye on Ace here. Don’t let him near any guns. The four of us that are riding out must rest now. I’m going to role up right here on the grass for now. Ace, I want you to sleep over there where you can be watched.” And he pointed to a post where a lantern was hanging. “If he doesn’t stay there shoot him.”


Chapter IV Beth Returned


     When daylight came the four men found breakfast ready. The Riley, Landers and Hansom families were getting along famously. The men also found five horses saddled and ready for travel. Jack looked at Ace and asked “do I need to tie you up? I’d rather not since it would slow things down a bit.”

    Ace replied “I know when I’m beat. I spect there’ll come a time when you get yours.” And with that they were on their way.

     There was a mountain range between the ranch and Laramie. Jack remembered coming through the pass. The trail got a little narrow in spots. Suddenly Ben, who was out ahead, shouted “There is a horse and rider down there.” He was pointing over a precipice, a shear drop of at least two hundred feet. At the bottom lay a horse and rider, both dead. “It’s Bart,” Ace said, “he never made it to town. He fell, the horse must have slipped.”

     “I thought he knew the way, Jack exclaimed, “He would have passed here by daylight anyway.”

      Ben opined “we can send someone from town to take care of the burial. They have someone that does that. From what I hear about the law in Laramie he must get pretty busy sometimes.”

     When they arrived at Laramie Jack ordered Ace to show him to the jail. As soon as the jail was in site Jack asked Abe to guard Ace a couple hundred yards away. “I don’t want him to warn his brother. If he tries to holler, just shoot his other foot”.

     There was a sign over the door that said “Marshall’s Office”. The door was not locked and three men stepped inside with guns drawn. The surprised Con Moyer sat at the desk. He started to rise when Jack said “I wouldn’t if I were you.” They could see Beth in the one cell. They would have known she was there because she screamed, “Jack”.

     Jack looked at Con and said “the key”. When he hesitated Jack punched him with his fist. The key was soon produced. Jack said quickly “Ben, you unlock the cell and Oran you go and get the other two.”

     As soon as Beth was free she bolted for Jack but he held her back saying “just one minute sweetheart.” Then he motioned for Con to get in the cell and within another minute both brothers were securely locked in the cell. Then Jack hugged and kissed the waiting lady. His last words to Ace were “I’m going to borrow your horse. You can pick it up at my ranch anytime.”

     Abe quickly had the five horses in control and five riders left Laramie in a gallop. The only other people they saw were a couple of surprised old men sitting in front of the saloon. The riders expected to be shot at or chased but it didn’t happen that way. They rode straight to the Landers ranch. Jack wondered if the marshals had a spare key for the cell or if they would have to saw the brothers out. He still had the cell key in his pocket. 

     When they arrived at the ranch the Riley couple greeted their daughter with hugs and the other six children were just as excited. It was early afternoon and the women went to work fixing a meal. The men were all tired and hungry and they sat around the table with time enough to finally get better acquainted.

     Gus gave a quick run down of what the ranch consisted of. The Landers had named it the Lazy L a long time ago. The size was measured in square miles rather than acres and it was surrounded by barbed wire fencing. The five cowboys employed there were out mending fences and would likely be coming in some time later in the evening. There was a bunk house near the barn and corral. Long had put Bart in charge when he took over and the boys don’t yet know that he’s gone. They will be delighted. You fellas mentioned buying into the ranch, Bill, are you serious about that?”

     “Well Gus, it’s too late in the season now to continue on to Oregon. Why don’t we camp out near by and think it over. We don’t know much about ranching but the children will love the open space I’m sure and we can all eventually become cowboys. What do you think Jack?”

     “I’m all for it. I don’t want to leave Gus alone for a while anyway now that I’ve stirred things up. He’s going to need protection. What do you think Harold?”

     “My kids are already in love with the place. I’ll stay a while.”  

     “How about me, can I join ya?” Abe asked.

     “Of course,” Gus was quick to say.

     So the men went to work moving the wagons in closer to the ranch house and setting up tents. Gus told them to corral the horses and he would feed them and he pointed out a pasture where they could graze any and all of the animals. “The oxen look a little lean, they need to fatten up.” He said with a wink. He was thinking they would eat them eventually but didn’t say it out loud.

     The only one that wasn’t completely satisfied with the status quo was Carla. She missed her new friend Buck Benson. But she also knew that nothing could be done about that situation right away.

     Just before dusk the five cow hands rode in. They were very hungry and Mrs. Landers had food prepared. They also needed to replenish their chuck wagon. Gus introduced the men and explained that Bart had met with an accident and Long was injured and Ace was also a little crippled. “These folks are going to hang around for a while in case of trouble, but were firing that bunch entirely. You fellas don’t have to stay. You know there could be trouble.”

     “The cowboys seemed delighted with the new arrangement and vowed to see it through, they had long been loyal to Gus.”

     Gus went on “Jack here shot Big Steve through the shoulder putting him down for a spell. That was the last time these fellas passed through. They also reduced Long’s gang by ten men. And by the way Jack here out drew Big Steve, I understand, so he needs congratulating.” Gus smiled as he added “I’d treat with some respect fellas.”

     Gus quizzed the men about how many beds were available in the bunk house. There were ten in all so five were empty. Gus continued looking at Jack now, “You may want to bunk down out there and get to know the men. We have only one empty bedroom in the house you guys can work out the arrangements. Watch is a good dog and will warn us long before any strangers can approach.”

     Carla was given the spare bedroom and the rest picked sleeping arrangements pretty much as they had on the trail. Between the tents and wagons there was plenty of room. All of the men slept with weapons nearby. Even fifteen year old (nearly sixteen he was quick to say) Edward Riley owned a small caliber rifle which he was sleeping with.

     The nine Rileys, four Hansoms, Abe, Ben, Oran, two Landers and five cowboys brought the total number on the ranch to twenty three. They outnumbered the outlaw gang for sure. As time went by the new arrivals were quickly learning the cattle business. They liked it. It sure was different from the city lives they left behind.


Chapter V Ranching


     Summer gave way to fall and the weather started to cool. Living in the tents and wagons would not be comfortable when the snow came so the men started putting up some temporary shelters. The hills were about ten miles away and that was the only place to find an abundance of trees. So the going was slow but logs were hauled in and a couple cabins started to take shape. Jack, Abe, Ben, Oran and Edward were satisfied with the bunk house. There was a fireplace and the cowboys had put in a lot of wood for fires.

     Big Steve and his crew left them alone for the time being but they had occupied two nearby ranches. Long was fully recovered and up to his old tricks in Laramie. It was rumored that he had killed at least fourteen people and continued to run a crooked saloon but he didn’t seem to have the stomach for visiting the Lazy L ranch.

     Just before the first snow fell the cowboys rode into Laramie and brought back supplies. They filled orders for all of the guests as well as for Gus and Sally. They brought back a telegraph message for the Riley family. It was from some folks they had become friendly with on the wagon train. It simply said that they had made it to Oregon and that Buck mentioned that the Riley family had headed toward the Laramie Plains and they would like to hear back that all is well now. And a few weeks later the guys went into town again and sent a message back to Oregon City.

     The winter was mild this year with moderate amounts of snow. It was necessary to take a few wagon loads of hay to the cattle from the big barn where it was stored. The children found it fun to sleep on the hay when it wasn’t too cold. The group got along famously. There were very few disagreements except among the youngsters now and then.

     Spring came and the men busied themselves with mending fences and rounding up cattle to be shipped to market. Bill Hansom decided to stay on the ranch and bought half interest in it from Gus. In fact the entire group liked the ranch life. Two log cabins now existed between the bunk house and the ranch house. All of the men were hired on as cowboys including James and Edward Riley, now thirteen and sixteen years old.

     It was June 30, 1868 when a lone rider was seen approaching the ranch house. It was mid day and the men were at work on the range. Carla was busy hanging cloths on the line in the yard near the horse trough. She glanced up from her work just as the approaching horse stopped for a drink. She didn’t recognize the rider until he dismounted and looked up at her from beneath the brim of his hat. “Buck, she gasped” as she ran to meet him.

     They were embraced when Marilyn and Jill came out of the door with baskets of clothes. Carla released her hostage long enough to shout “its Buck Benson. He’s come back.” 

    “I had no idea you would come.” Carla exclaimed.

    “I came back to marry you.” Buck whispered in her ear and Carla burst into tears. And Buck added “Do you think your father will give his permission?”

     “You had my father sold when you told the story about Kit Carson. Everybody in New York City has read stories about Kit Carson.”

     “For that matter they have read about Big Steve Long. The only difference is that most stories about Kit are true. Now how about we let those guys be and decide when would be a good time to approach your dad.”

     “He’ll no doubt be here for dinner.” Carla smiled.

     At that point Carla’s mother and Jill approached with Sally a little behind. Sally was getting old and welcomed all of the help she was getting. The women all gave Buck a welcoming hug and asked how long he planned to stay. Buck replied “that depends on whether I can find a job.”

     Sally said “I don’t think you’ll have any trouble there. The men have more than doubled the size of the herd.”

     Buck was hungry and dirty so he bathed in the bunkhouse while Carla fixed him a lunch. And soon after July 4th the preacher was brought to the ranch from town and a big celebration took place on the ranch. Even all of the cowboys shaved and combed their hair. The preacher brought a fiddler with him and there was dancing.

      About another peaceful month went by before the ranch had a visitor by the name of N. K. Boswell who owned a nearby ranch and had recent trouble with Long. Long had forced him, at gun point, to sign papers allowing him, Big Steve Long to sell off Boswell’s cattle. Several other area ranchers had been treated in the same way. This had happened to Gus before the wagon party came to his rescue. Boswell had just gotten himself appointed to the position of Sheriff of Albany County which had jurisdiction over Laramie and its marshal. But there was little he could do by himself.

     Gus had met Nathaniel Kimball Boswell many times as a neighbor and fellow rancher. Boswell owned the largest ranch in the county and Gus could only guess as to how many thousands of head of cattle he owned. Nathan was suggesting a meeting of all the ranchers in the county to discuss how to rid the area of Big Steve Long and his two half brothers Con and Ace Moyer. It was obvious that there would be no peace as long as they were around. It was further decided that the meeting should take place at Gus’s ranch since he had so many loyal men on hand. The other ranchers would not bring cowboys along since they weren’t sure who to trust.

     Two weeks later, in late August of 1868 the meeting took place. One of the ranchers had found the body of a prospector by the name of Rollie “Hard Luck” Harrison who had obviously been robbed. There was evidence that Rollie had found some gold and the robber had shot him in a scuffle over the booty. Harrison had drawn and fired his gun. The rancher, Tom Rando, who found and buried Rollie, had very carefully made these observations. Another rancher who had been in town the previous night said that he had learned that Long was suffering from a gunshot wound. He, Steve Long was up and around but bandaged up noticeably. It was decided that Boswell would hire two deputies that were not known in Laramie and have them hang around the saloons gathering information. If any kind of proof could be found against Long and his henchmen he could form a posse and make an arrest. After making that decision the meeting broke up and the men continued getting better acquainted over drinks and tobacco. 

     Carla and Buck had taken over one of the new Cabins and Beth had occupied the second bedroom that was added on. Since Jack was sleeping in the bunkhouse and riding out early every morning Beth wasn’t seeing as much of him as she would like. Late one evening Beth stood on the bottom rail of the corral fence feeding a sugar cube to her favorite horse. She was surprised to see Jack riding in from the range. He quickly fed his horse and turned it loose in the corral before joining Beth by the fence. He embraced her as he was now accustomed to doing when they met. Beth was rather quiet for a while before saying “Jack, how do you feel about us?”

     “I’m not sure what you mean. I’ve told you many times that I’m in love with you.”

     “Yes but Jack, you have had other lady friends in the past but I haven’t had any other men friends. I guess I feel kind of insecure.”

     “Would you feel more secure if I asked for your hand in marriage?”

     “Do you really mean that, Jack? Don’t joke with me.”

     “Do you think I would joke about something as serious as that?”

     “Oh Jack” she cried as she kissed him hard on the mouth.

     When they finally eased apart Jack said “I’ll speak to your father tomorrow. We’ll be riding fence together. But there is one last thing I have to tell you.”

     “What’s that Jack?”

     “I was with General Sherman’s army in Atlanta. I didn’t set fire to any buildings, but I was there. I saw it all.”

     Beth paused to think for several moments then she said “the war is over Jack. We were on opposite sides. I just thank god that we are together on the same side now.”

     Jack kissed her one more time before he left her at her door and slipped away to the bunk house. 


Chapter VI The Hanging   


 It happened that Jack didn’t get the chance he needed the next day. Boswell rode in, early the next morning. One of his men in Laramie had gotten close to Big Steve’s ex girl friend and learned that Long had confessed to her that he had robbed and killed Rollie Harrison. He even described the scene. There was no doubt about his guilt and the lady, if you could call her that, even signed an affidavit.

     What Boswell was suggesting was to get another meeting together. First he would get an arrest warrant from the circuit judge for Long and his two brothers. They were all in on it. Then they should meet he said. So it was decided that they would get the ranchers together and form a posse. He would deputize all that wanted to go along and they could set a date to all meet at The Laramie Saloon.

     The meeting was a little slow in getting together as the ranchers were busy with fall round ups and taking care of getting cattle shipped to market. The first train had entered Laramie on May 10, 1868 and cattle were now being shipped regularly by train.

     The meeting finally took place on the morning of September 28, 1868 at Gus’s Lazy L Ranch again. This time the ranchers invited the cowboys that wished to participate. Nathaniel wanted them along because he wasn’t sure how many men were controlled by Long. There were dozens that hung around his saloon but it was not clear how many were loyal to the brothers. It was also decided that it didn’t really matter if Long knew they were coming. If he chose to leave town that would make Boswell’s job much easier. The decision was made to act immediately. Further delay would just give the outlaws time to gather more troops together. The plan was developed rather quickly.

     Bill Hansom and Harold Riley were asked to remain at the ranch because they were not familiar with the weapons and Gus Landers was to be left behind because of his age. The men left behind made a fuss but the sheriff was adamant about it. From the Lazy L Jack, Buck, Ben, Oran, Abe and all five of the cowboys volunteered. There were to be at least 30 men from the other ranches.

      The plan was that the men would space out their arrival at the saloon. They would gather at the bar and some would enter into card games. If the men they sought were not around some one would ask about them and let it be known that they had a business deal to discuss with them. Boswell himself would be there early in the game just in case the gang got wise, which they certainly would at some point.

     So, by early evening men started arriving at the saloon starting with those that the brothers would not recognize but after a dozen men were in place Boswell entered followed by Jack and Buck. Long, Ace and Con were seated at a gambling table along with three other men all engaged in a card game. When he saw Buck and Jack He caught on quickly that something was up.

     The brothers did not react immediately but Jack, who was watching Long’s hands very closely, noticed that they were shaking. The shaking increased when he looked toward the door and saw a large group of men gathered outside tying their horses to the rail. Boswell was the first to speak directly to the brothers and he did it loud enough for all to hear “Well, howdy Big Steve Long.”

     “Howdy Nathan,” Long replied.

     Boswell still spoke out loud “were you’re hands shaking like that when you shot poor old Rollie ‘Hard Luck’ Harrison Mr. Long? Evidently they weren’t, you didn’t miss.”

     The brothers jumped up from their chairs but were quickly immobilized by dozens of hands that surrounded them and they were quickly disarmed and their hands were tied.

     The mob from outside came pouring in and the cries for hanging rang loud and clear. Boswell didn’t object, he could see that a hanging was about to take place whether he wanted it or not. These men had been robbed far too many times by the brothers. So before the night was over Big Steve Long and Con and Ace Moyer were hanging from the rafters of a nearby vacant cabin. The ranchers and cowboys stayed around town for a while drinking and talking and then they all went home knowing that their property was now safe.

     Jack didn’t watch the actual hanging. He didn’t have the stomach for it. He heard that Long had requested that they remove his boots because his mother always told him he would die with his boots on. He was hung barefooted.

     The following day Jack spoke to Harold Riley asking for his daughters hand in marriage. Riley answered “Well you finally got around to it. What took you so long? Beth is really anxious to get the thing over with.”

     The following week the preacher was again brought to the Lazy L ranch. All the surrounding ranchers and cattle men were invited. It was a bigger event than even the hanging and a lot more fun.

     After the ceremony Jack walked Beth around behind the house and told her “I have bought out a homesteader that wanted to leave. We can move right in. I have been offered several hands to help fencing it and I am buying cattle. The future looks really good with the railroad moving towards the west coast. And the market is good in Chicago now.

     “We’ll make it Jack. We’ll be happy and have many children. I liked growing up in a large family.”

     Then they kissed and slowly walked back to the party.





The Quest

An Ice Age Fantasy






     I got the idea for this story while browsing the World Wide Web late one evening. I have forgotten what I was looking for but it had no relation to what I found. They say seek and you shall find. This is true in most instances, but on the web the saying should be – seek and you shall find just about everything except what you’re looking for.

     So I ran across an article on global warming and how the melting glaciers in the arctic that have not melted for over 2 million years, are revealing some astounding facts. The first that struck me was that the last ice age, which occurred a little over ten thousand years ago happened not at all the way it was thought. The old theory was that it occurred over a period of thousands of years with the ice slowly moving south. What amazed me was that many scientists now believe that it happened all within about six months. Also they have found that the periods between ice ages are far shorter than the ice ages themselves.

     There is no way of knowing how people communicated prior to the last ice age. Obviously they communicated. They came up with some very well made tools although they had no metals, only rock and wood. They certainly could produce some weapons as they were able to kill large animals including not only bison but wooly mammoths and mastodons. This required language of some kind as cooperation would have been necessary.

     I recently read a book by Jack London about the ancestors of modern man. It dealt with people who lived in trees and had just recently learned to stand on two feet. I believe that they still had tails. I can’t remember the book’s title but it’s not important. The idea that I wanted to borrow from it was that it could be that memories of the lives of our ancestors still exist. I don’t know if that is a possibility or not but it could be that some of these memories exist along side of memories of current events.

     So utilizing these premises I have invented a story. It is almost completely unscientific. It is my conception of pre-ice age history. And of course I have used modern day language to describe things ancient.   






     John Baff awoke briefly from his coma like condition and found that he had been stretched out in the back of a van or SUV like vehicle. He did not recognize the driver. So he asked “who are you.”

     “My name’s Rob.”

     “Rob what?”

     “Just Rob is enough for now. I’m a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Your wife called us. The fellow next to me is Bill.”

     “I used to go to those stupid meetings, Guys.”

     “Why did you stop, John?” Bill asked.

     “I got drunk.”

     “Yes, I can tell. Your wife is a little upset about that.”

      John passed out again for a while and after several minutes he came around. “My wife wants a divorce.”

     “What about you John do you want a divorce?”

     “I’m too drunk to think about it right now.” Then there was silence again while John slept. The next time he awoke he asked; “Where’re we going, Rob?”

     “We’re going to the hospital emergency room. You were experiencing the DTs, delirium tremens. Next to you back there you’ll find a bottle with a couple ounces of vodka in it. You can drink it if you feel the need. We’ll be driving for the next half hour.”

     John uncorked the bottle, drank it down and lay unresponsive but half aware of his surroundings. He heard the AA guys talking but could not say any more himself.

     Rob suddenly jammed on the brakes. “What the hell was that?” He asked.

     “A pair of coyotes just ran across the road.” Bill replied as Rob gained control of the vehicle.

     “It must be mating season.” Rob responded.

     “No Rob, coyotes mate for life.”

     “It’s too bad more people don’t follow their lead. Most all of my group members are divorced.”

     “That includes me Rob. Coyotes are one of the few animals that choose life long mates. Animals with that particular trait make up a very short list. It includes gibbons, wolves and swans as well.”

     Bill was a teacher and had recently been studying the ice ages so he added one more animal to the list and that was the extinct mastodon. Bill went on about his interest in the prehistoric beasts. Rob had little interest in the topic but let Bill go on expounding and concentrated on driving.

      When they reached the hospital they noticed that John had slipped back into oblivion. They drove up to the emergency entrance and waited while two interns wheeled Mr. Baff inside on a gurney. As they were passing through the door Bill called out “we will be back to see you in a couple days. I don’t think you’re hearing me but we’ll see you later.”   



Chapter I Summer Snow


     It had been snowing now for several days without a let up. Baff stood in the doorway of his home looking out. It had also turned very cold suddenly a few days ago, but more days than he could count. He couldn’t count past ten. He used his fingers.

     He didn’t know his age but he was as big as his father now. He and his father were both very large and muscular. In fact at some of the village sporting events they would wrestle there way to the first and second prize positions most of the time. He and his father lived in a hut that they had built several summers ago. He could remember his mother vividly but she had died in the hut though he knew not why. A new child was trying to be born at the time and like several others never quite made it although some had survived for several summers before they passed on. His mother had taught him many things that were unknown to most of the men he was familiar with. The many skills he had learned from her included the gathering of plants for food. She was considered to be the wisest woman ever known to the village.

     The hut was a half circle of logs and brush stacked against a rock wall that outcropped several feet so that half of the roof was formed by the outcropping of rock. Baff had filled the cracks in the wall with snow as soon as it started to fall.

     A very short number of days ago it was sunny and things were starting to grow. He had gathered greens and roots and several kinds of grains that were in good supply before the snow came, just the way his mother had taught him to do it. This was a few more days past than he could count but he knew it was not a long time ago. What was puzzling was the fact that this was not the season for snow though it was piling up rapidly outside and it had become very cold. He was dressed in his warmest furs.

     Just as Baff was thinking of fixing a meal he saw his father coming towards the hut and he silently observed him as he approached the opening that served as a doorway. There was a flap to lower over the opening at night but during the day it served as the only source of light other than a wood fire in the middle of the room on a dirt floor. The smoke curled through a hole in the roof when the wind didn’t blow it back into the room. Baff and his father, whose name was Lars had a rather primitive language with which to communicate with one another. They lived among members of the small village and were well liked by all. Although primitive their speech was adequate to maintain good relationships with their neighbors. Their language was actually a combination of speech and signs. They usually made signs with their hands but sometimes used their entire body.

     Baff’s father said that he had killed a bison not far away and in the morning they could skin it and use the hide to make some warmer clothes and they would feast on the meat. For now they must get some help dragging it to the cabin in order to keep the wolves and other predators away from it. Of course they did not call these animals by the names of bison and wolves but the story teller here must substitute some modern words, not knowing the language spoken by those people in that particular period. Actually no one living today knows what their language was like.

     So they worked together with some friends dragging the heavy bison to a safe place protected by fire. The fire was never allowed to go out. They had specially treated bone containers to carry some hot coals when traveling overnight. They had to be replaced often. They generally were bones of mastodon or wooly mammoths. 

     After fixing a dinner of grains and greens mixed with game they stuffed themselves and retired to their very comfortable beds of furs spread on the dirt floor. They had plenty of furs to enable them to withstand sub zero temperatures which were rare with the exception of the past four hands of days of continual early fading of summer which had hardly begun. At least the food was not spoiling and Baff had collected a good supply.






Chapter II Wooly Mammoths



      In the morning they set to work on the bison with axes made of very sharp stones with hard wood handles. While they worked together Baff’s father spoke of seeing a large herd of wooly mammoths up the ravine not far. They were not too worried about being trampled since they slept under the outcrop of stone carved out of the hillside. The mammoths could not pass under it. They were too large. Lars related that he had never seen so many mammoths in one herd and they should set some traps for them. There was a swamp nearby that they used for that purpose. They could drive the huge beasts into the bog where they would get stuck in the deep mud and could be killed with many spears and stones and axes. The swamp for some reason seldom froze – there were warm springs underneath -- but it was now freezing over for the first time in years so they must act fast.

     They walked around the village gathering up hunters to help drive the mammoths and kill them. There would be an ample supply of meat and skins to get them through any period of cold weather.

     The drive went well and worked as usual. This time there were many more animals than usual. While they were slaughtering the trapped animals they were surprised by a thunderous sound from up the valley. It turned out to be a continuation of the herd. It was much larger even than Lars had thought. That night the frightened beasts came crashing through the village and this time they bypassed the swamp and passed directly through the village destroying many homes and killing nearly half of the inhabitants. Their good fortune was soon turned to bad. Many of the hunters found their families wiped out. A few found them still in tact. Much of the village lay in ruin. It probably should never have been constructed in such a narrow valley.

     So it turned out that there were more than enough animals killed to go around. Baff and Lars skinned two and cut up as much meat as they could haul home. The skins made for good temporary shelters when venturing out on long hunting trips. The meat could be kept indefinitely as long as the freezing weather kept up.




Chapter III Ice Wall


       Two or three days went by when the snow finally let up a little. It was already deep enough to make travel difficult. The people of the region had invented a rudimentary kind of snow shoe designed after the snow shoe rabbit which was a delicacy among the tribe and existed in great abundance. Baff, Lars and two of their friends started to walk up the valley looking to see if more mammoths or other beasts were still coming. The men quickly recovered from the family losses. They were not strangers to death. It was a way of life so to speak.

     Although many of the men remained monogamous there was no such thing as official marriages. Families usually stuck together as a unit. It seemed to come natural. This is not to say that there were not men who still rutted like the beasts of the forests.

       After hiking a couple hours – they had no way of keeping time – they were suddenly confronted with the biggest shock of there lives. There in the middle of the great valley which they had always trusted and called home stood a great wall of ice. It was as tall as or taller than the surrounding hills and totally impassable by any means. Great trees were felled in its path. In fact no tree was left standing beneath the wall of ice. So they used some of the ample supply of fire wood and the bucket of coals that Baff had brought and started a fire. It was very cold. They sat around the fire chattering rapidly all at once. After several moments of silence that followed Brant spoke. He was Baff’s best friend. He said “I just heard a loud scraping sound, where did it come from?”

     His other friend Ronna spoke. “The ice is moving.”

     “That can’t be.” Baff injected.

     Then Ronna pointed to a stick just inches from the ice and said, “I put that stick there myself and I can see that the ice is closer by that much,” as he demonstrated by holding up his thumb and forefinger. Now the men were all dumbfounded and silent for a spell. If they had thought about it deeply enough they would have seen the great amount of dirt that had been pushed up by the movement of the ice. 

     Baff finally broke the silence “Someone has angered Sol, we must find out who it was and destroy them. Sol is God. It has always been the sun god that provides us with everything in life with any value. He brought on the rain that made things grow. He created warmth each time the earth froze over for such a long time. But always he continued to come back and make things grow until all of the berries and fruits ripened and the grains turned brown. Never before has he become so enraged that he caused the ice and snow to return when the blossoms were out on the fruit and the flowers were blooming in the forests. Never has there been an attack by a giant wall of ice creeping down the valley and chasing great herds of mammoths in its path. Have we not had festivals in Sol’s honor?” This was something they had never dealt with before. Someone had angered Sol.

     The four men sat by the warmth of the burning embers and pondered each to him self. Baff had entered into a subject seldom approached in this way. They all worshipped Sol but never with fear involved. Sol had always been a friend. They normally only feared the night when darkness surrounded them and Sol was not watching them. So they seldom ventured out at night.

     Suddenly thunder was heard. It was louder than anything they had ever heard before. The ground shook violently for a long moment. The great noise accompanied slight movement in the ice wall. They turned toward the village and started to run as fast as they could on snow shoes. Great chunks of ice were falling from the flow and as Baff looked back he saw that Ronna had been struck down and he could do nothing but watch as Ronna was buried in the onslaught.

    The three remaining men made it to the village far too out of breath to talk. The first hut they reached was that belonging to Baff and Lars. They entered and sat shaking. When he was able to move Lars tossed some wood on the smoldering embers in the center of the room. 

     Soon several other men arrived at the home of Lars for he was considered to be a very wise man and one of the leaders of the village. They sat around as close as they could be to the fire which had been enlarged several times. They all were asking at once about the cause of the great thunder that shook the very earth under them. “Our women say that it is getting too cold for them and they are refusing to gather wood. We must do it ourselves or freeze.”

     And Lars answered them. “It is Sol who is causing it. He is angry about something. We don’t as yet know just what. But it is very bad. We have never felt such thunder. It is getting dark so let us all gather some wood and come here in the morning after thinking on the problem. I have no woman to gather wood and I get by. You men can make an exception this once. Women are frightened more easily than men.” As he said this he noted that all present were shaking with fear. 

     When Lars awoke at daylight he found that Baff had a roaring fire and was busy thawing the hides of mammoths and scraping the flesh from them with sharp stones so that he could make winter garments that wouldn’t smell so bad. Some people didn’t mind if the clothes stank but Baff stayed away from those folks. Several times during the night Lars had awakened to the thunderous sound of the ice.

     Without eating Lars put on his warmest clothes and snow shoes and walked back up the valley to the ice wall. It was very noticeable that the wall had moved by the length of two men laying head to toe. Great chunks of ice were still falling with crashing noises. He looked up at the sky and noticed that Sol was peeking through the clouds at him, but something else was wrong. 

     Lars was an intelligent human being and he knew the seasons very well as he had lived through many cold and many warm seasons. As he slowly walked back down the valley he could see a distant mountain peak. It was called Cora as was the village. He gazed in amazement at the peak which was no longer a peak at all. It was flat on top and what was more astounding was that he could see smoke coming from what appeared to be an opening in the mountain top. 

     Lars returned home to find his hut full of men from the surrounding huts. Two of them said that their women had died during the night. They had run out of wood for the fires. They also brought news of having found a family of four people frozen. Outside it seemed to be getting colder even though the sun, now almost always called by its godly name Sol, was coming out briefly between periods of snowing but it still remained cold and was getting worse. Lars told them of the things he had observed while Baff just continued with his work on the hides.

     After the men had left, Baff spoke to his father, “Lars, I know that I am not as old as you and have not experienced as much of life as you, but I have made a decision. Sometimes I feel that even though there is much that I don’t know I am able to understand things that others can’t. For instance I know that something is happening that has not been experienced by anyone alive and not even by any of the ancients from where our stories are passed to us and repeated by the old men. So we must think for ourselves. The great wall of ice is moving in our direction, down through the valley. The earth is spewing smoke and fire from the mountain tops. I can not calculate the time it will take for the ice to reach our hut, my ability with numbers is limited, but it will not stop until we are all devoured. It continues to get colder by the day. We must do something. As for me, I am making these skins into warmer clothes and some to use for shelter. I will continue what I am doing until I feel secure about traveling and then I will leave this place. I want you to come with me. It is good that we have no women at present. We can travel much easier.”

     Lars spoke thus, “Baff, I believe you are much wiser than the oldest men in the village. I don’t know why, but you are. I am sure you are right. I will go with you, but where will we go?”

     “The source of all life itself is Sol, you know that as well as I Lars. We must travel in his direction.”

     “What about the others?”

     “Lars, some of them don’t have the sense to gather wood when their women balk. We can not feed them. Many are not that good at hunting. My mother, before she died taught me how to gather roots from under the snow and how to make foods from certain tree bark and needles. We must go alone or we will not survive. When we leave we can advise the others to do the same. I don’t think they will, but we must keep our travel plans secret until we leave. We must go alone. We can plead with Sol and ask him to save as many of the villagers as are left. The sooner we find him the better.”

      “You are correct in your thinking Baff, When shall we leave?”

      “We must be prepared for even colder weather. It is continuing to get colder. You can help by gathering some more wood, enough for a couple of days at least. Also we need more skins. We can collect from those who have died. There is nothing we can do for them and more are dying as we speak. We want only the parts of the animals with the most fur. We must have boots of fur. The buffalo hide might work best for that. OK, we are family so let’s stick together. Can you do the things we need to do?”

     “Yes Baff, you are very wise.”

     “We have two days to do it and then we will leave.” And with that said they both busied themselves. They tried to answer questions from the villagers and give advice where they could, but their own plans were a secret.





Chapter IV Journey to the Sun


     After two days of continuous labor they were ready to go. The morning they planned to leave they called the men of the village together. They were packed for travel with temporary shelters and extra clothing made from various animal furs. Baff spoke to the group, “We are going to leave now. Anyone who wants it can have our hut. We have no plan to return. We are following the trail to the great Sol. If we find him we will tell him of your plight. If we don’t find him we will perish. My advice to you and the advice of my father the great Lars who is always concerned with your welfare, is for you to move on before the ice overtakes you. Good bye to you all and you shall remain in our thoughts.”

     Then the travelers were on their way down the valley toward the sun. They didn’t realize it but by always traveling toward Sol, whether at sunrise or sunset they would always be headed in a general southerly direction.

     They carried weapons for hunting and a bone cask of fire embers. They couldn’t help seeing the fire flowing down the side of a couple nearby mountains so they knew they could relight the fire in an emergency.

     As they came to the mouth of the valley where the village lay protected from the wind by hills on each side, Baff thought out loud that it was not a good site after all. It was because of that protected location that the mammoth herd had to trample through and create havoc. Mammoths were normally docile and friendly toward people; at least they didn’t go out of their way to trample them to death. A mastodon was much more dangerous when encountered although Baff and his father had killed one once in a while.

     They encountered a small animal here and there. The snow shoe rabbits seemed to be especially abundant. Rabbits seemed to be oblivious to the cold. Baff killed a couple, using chunks of ice in his sling, knowing that they would make good eating when night came.

     After a long silence Baff spoke, “Lars, you may notice that Sol gets up in the morning over there and goes to bed over there.” And he pointed left and right. “At mid day he is in the direction we are now walking. I think that the best place from which we may speak to him would be directly below him, so we should travel towards his mid day position. We certainly don’t want to disturb him where he sleeps. It is a great mystery how he gets from where he beds down to where he arises. He is a mighty god.”

     “You are very wise Baff. You should have been one of the village leaders instead of me.”

     When night came they gathered fire wood and unrolled their beds, stuffed the rabbits with some bark that Baff’s mother had taught him to use. Then they roasted them on a stick. The stuffing got very tender and tasty inside of the meat. As darkness overtook them Baff remarked, “The smoking mountains are behind us now; we seem to be traveling away from the danger zone.”

     They slept well wrapped in the wooly mammoth skins and when daylight returned they finished the roasted rabbits and readied themselves for the days hike. “Look back there where we came from!” Baff exclaimed. He pointed toward a hole in the ground with smoke and fire spouting from it. They could see that a hill was forming around the smoke as burning ash and rocks came spewing out. This was right in the middle of the path they had followed on the previous day.



Chapter V A Change in Direction


     They could no longer count the days they had walked toward Sol but they did not seem to be getting any closer. “Lars, I think Sol is trying to stay ahead of us. I don’t know why. If we have angered him we must determine what it is that we did.”

     Lars thought about that then said “I don’t think that is the reason he retreats. Have you noticed that it is getting warmer? The snow is getting slushy and the trees still have some leaves around here. I have also seen some nuts. Perhaps we might even see some fruit soon.” And very soon it turned out that Lars was right; there was fruit.

     After gathering as much food as they could carry they ate their fill and then made camp. As soon as a fire was started and they started cooking some meat, Baff spoke thoughtfully, “I believe that Sol is changing his mind about attacking us with ice and mountains of fire. This area seems to be free of such things.” They sat and thought for some time enjoying good food and rest. Then they slept.

     In the morning Baff had an idea. “I think that the Ice is melting and we should go back. It looks to me like Sol is angry with us for leaving the poor villagers to die while we escaped. There may be some still alive back there and we could show them how to survive until another warm season comes. It may come at the regular time now. What do you think, Lars?”

     “I am leaving the thinking to you my son.”

     “All right then, we will turn around and go back.”

     And that is just what they did. For several days they had been following a river so it was easy to reverse their path for a while. But after several more days, more than they could keep track of, another problem confronted them. It was getting colder again. The snow was hard packed and the river was frozen. One night as they made camp Baff spoke seriously again. “We were wrong Lars, The ice is not receding. We just got ahead of it. I am beginning to think that the village we seek is no longer there. And besides we are lost. I know that we didn’t follow this river as far as we have on the return. I don’t believe we could find the village again even if it is still there. Yesterday when the sun came out briefly I could see a mountain smoking in the distance. When we were further away from here Sol was showing him self much more and the snow was letting up. We made a bad mistake trying to return; we must reverse our journey once again.”

     “I agree with you Baff, but I must tell you I am growing weak and I’m not sure that I can go on.”

     “We will camp here for a couple days and rest. We have enough to eat and our wooly mammoth shelter is good protection.”

     So they did rest for two days but Lars was no better and on the third morning he could not get up from his bedding. Baff cooked some leaves he had brought along from the place of the fall season. He roasted some rabbit and squirrel. He fed Lars where he lay but by day four his father had died. He was alone. It was customary to let the wolves eat the dead. Things should not be wasted and it would make anyone unhappy to know that their remains went to waste. So he left Lars lying on the snow for the wolves that were already hovering nearby.



Chapter VI Alone, But Not For Long


       Baff continued his trek toward the great Sol. Two days after leaving Lars he was taken by surprise while passing a grove when a man jumped at him with a stone axe swinging in the air. It was a small man and Baff soon had him pinned to the ground with the axe now in his own hand. “Why do you attack me when I bring no harm to you?”

     “You speak a foreign tongue, I can barely understand you,” came the reply.

     Baff was amazed now to find that it wasn’t a man at all; it was a woman or a girl. “I will try to speak very slowly and carefully. You must have come from our neighboring village or else I would not understand you at all. I have met such people. I am still wondering why you attack me.”

     “I was very frightened when I saw you. Many of my villagers are dead. They were frozen. I have been walking for days afraid to stop lest I freeze also. My language is very close to yours and I understand you when you talk slow. Do you have food?”

     “Yes I have some meat and some nuts. There are many rabbits around and I am very good with the sling. I will make camp here and you may share my food. Here is your axe, please put it away and be careful not to hit me with it. I am not good to eat.” So Baff quickly started a fire and stuffed some nuts and bark inside of a rabbit and started roasting it. While supper was cooking the girl chewed on some nuts. Then he asked, “Where are you going?”

     “I am lost.”

     “What is your name?”

     “My name is Afaf.” She answered.

     As they were sitting on the wooly mammoth hides eating Baff’s perfectly cooked meal he explained to her his plan to find Sol and find out what is happening to the world around us. He told her of finding trees with leaves and melting snow before making such a serious mistake in turning back. He told of Lars, his father who he had been with all of his life and how alone he has felt for the last two days. “You may join me in my quest if you want. There is a river another day ahead of us and if we follow it we will eventually find it unfrozen enough to spear some fish which are very tasty.” He went on talking until he had related the whole story of the ice attack and the burning mountains and the mammoth stampede and how he conspired with his father to leave by ourselves as it was hopeless to try bringing the others. 

     Afaf said she would be happy to join him. “I thought I was as good as dead. I have had no food or fire for days. I’ve been afraid to sleep because I would freeze.”

     Baff gave her some warmer boots and some things he had been carrying that belonged to Lars. She removed her hood as the fire got warmer and Baff constructed a makeshift shelter. He was astounded when he saw her full face and hair. He had never seen a girl that looked like her. He was immediately attracted to her. In the past he had rutted with some of the village women but never saw one that he found so appealing. As long he had lived with Lars he never thought of finding a mate to live with and hunt meat for, while she gathered plants for him. But he suddenly found himself thinking such thoughts even in the face of such an uncertain future.

     After eating their fill and seeing darkness lowering itself around them Baff fixed a soft place to sleep with fur under and over. The cold outside was extreme so he put some large logs on the fire and made sure they would be close enough for comfort without getting burned. She was asleep before he was but he followed her lead very closely.

     The nights were getting longer and they both lay awake as the daylight took over. It felt good to Baff to be so close to Afaf even though they had just met and in spite of her attack on him with an axe. He understood how frightened she must have been meeting a strange man in the wilderness. Being this close to a helpless woman his normal reaction would be to rut with her whether she wanted to or not. It was the accepted thing to do but this girl affected him much differently. He spoke to her saying “Afaf, you are very easy to look at. I see you very clearly now. You look much more womanly than any I have seen before. I don’t know how to say it but you give me great pleasure when I look upon you. I know I could over power you physically and do the normal things that men do to women at times like this but I can’t stop thinking of all of the losses you have recently suffered. It is normal that people should die. That doesn’t bother me. The dead are with Sol. Warm and happy. But we who are left behind must suffer the loss. I miss my father, Lars. And I remember my mother. She had several children but I am the only one that grew up. My mother and father were much more than just rutting partners. They had some kind of feelings for each other. Something I could never explain, there is no word for it as it is just a thought. Look at some of the animals like the mammoth for example. They find a mate and stay together for life. They fight to protect each other and their babies. Even some of the birds behave in the same manner. The mighty mastodon, as brutal as they can be will mate for life. I have often thought of having such a mate. One that I would not want to share and would fight to prevent such attempted sharing episodes. That is something I will speak to the mighty Sol about. Only he will understand.”

     Afaf raised herself onto one arm resting her elbow on the bedding and looked at Baff for a long time before saying that she thought him very strange. ”Never have I heard anyone speak as you do. I can tell that you are wise beyond anyone I have ever encountered. I do not fully understand but I want to.”

     Baff for some reason rubbed his cheek against hers. It felt good. Then they got up and had their morning meal. Afaf was very helpful with the preparation of the food and getting packed for traveling. Baff quickly prepared snow shoes for her as she had none. She didn’t know what they were for at first but soon caught on. “Watch the Snow shoe rabbits,” he told her.



Chapter VII Sudden Danger


     They kept following Sol for several more days enjoying each other immensely. They laughed and they talked while becoming more familiar each with the others language idiosyncrasies. They had found the river that flowed towards Sol and followed it finding walking on the frozen surface easier than on the shores. They were sleeping much closer these nights and enjoying the things that mating couples did. This was normal and they did it without shame or guilt. Love was a feeling they had no word for but they felt it none the less. Whether others felt it they did not know. No one ever spoke of it. Most men clubbed there mates if they angered them or did not submit to their wishes. Baff thought of these things as the days passed and soon they felt the warming trend that Baff had spoken of. It was now very early spring. Baff knew of the seasons although he could only speak of them in very general terms. They were now encountering nut trees and were gathering some edible roots that only he knew of. Soon there were openings in the ice on the river and Baff speared some salmon and bass. A few days ago he had killed a bison with a spear and rocks. They were eating well. They weren’t feeling it necessary to travel as fast now and spent a day or two in one place before moving on toward the sun. Life was good for them. They were hoping to meet other people at some point. They were lonesome even though they enjoyed each other. Baff had no fear of people. There were bad folks that you could run into but they were rare. War was as yet unheard of at this point in history. People shared with those who were in need without question. Individuals sometimes engaged in deadly duels when enraged but a village never quarreled with another village.

     While these thoughts occupied Baff he suddenly jumped up from the mammoth skin on which he was sitting. Two men were walking toward them. Afaf had not yet seen them as her back was to them. “Hello,” Baff said as he stepped in their direction. “Can I offer you some food?”

      “It is the girl Afaf that we came for, not food. We will eat after we deal with her.”

     “What do you want with her?”

     The largest of the men answered “The leader of our village sent us to slay her.”

     “My good man, I will not allow you near my mate.”

     “We don’t want to do you harm but we will if you interfere with our quest. Our leader, the great Bing, has determined that it was something that she did that angered the great sun god. The last festival held in our village, in Sol’s honor, was not attended by her. No one ever ignores Sol. He is angry with her and well he should be. And it has fallen on us to carry out the task of slaying her. When we are given such a task and fail to carry it out it will be us who will be slain. I am sure you will not stand in our way. After all it is just a woman that we quarrel over.”

     Baff had picked up his axe and stepped closer to the man who spoke and he said “I am Baff, leader of my village. My father was leader but he died recently. I say to you, leave this place now or I will have to slay you with my axe.”

     The men took another step back and Baff followed with his axe hoisted above his head. Afaf remained behind him.”

     The spokesman looked Baff over and decided to retreat for now. As they departed Baff took out his sling and heaved a rock which struck one of the men in the back. They retreated faster after realizing that Baff was an expert with his weaponry. The large man spoke again “My leader is only two days behind us. I will be back after I consult with him.” 

     After the men left, Afaf spoke.”I am sorry Baff I didn’t tell you that I was being sought. I thought that you wouldn’t feed me and I was starving. After that I just wanted to stay with you.”

     “Don’t worry Afaf, I have killed mastodons, I do not fear those men. But we should break camp and move on. We must talk to Sol then nothing can harm us. We don’t have to worry when it is dark. No worshipper of Sol will travel at night. It is far too dangerous.”

     “You are so wise. You are my hero.” Hearing this, Baff puffed up his chest and showed off his muscular physical appearance. Afaf thought to herself that it was funny for Baff to boast of killing mastodon but she was pleased that he would make up such a story to impress her.

     Afaf smiled and displayed her feminine virtues. “I will help you carry the bedding. I don’t feel that I am doing my share. I am capable of walking much faster than we have done so far. I will show you that I am a very useful mate. If it keeps getting warmer we won’t have to carry as much.” It seemed more and more like a normal late winter or early spring season.

     “You are doing just great. I am not ready to discard you yet.” And they were soon walking toward Sol again. Several more days passed without incident. They kept constant watch for the men with the quest to do harm to Afaf. The snow was melting. There were patches of bare ground to be seen. They could no longer walk on the river as the ice was floating down in chunks and anyway the river was baring more toward Sol’s point of arising. Baff wanted to continue on a path to Sol’s mid day point. So Baff speared as many fish as they could carry and stayed on the right track. 




Chapter VIII A Dog and a Mastodon


     They were on a plain now and going was easy. There were many groves and some grass lands to break up the days. It had been lightly snowing but not severely cold. Baff was pleased with the snow as he said, “Those men will have a hard time finding us now. The snow has covered our tracks. We can relax a little.”

     Just then Afaf made a happy sound as she gazed into the distance. A dog was running towards them. It was a very large gray wolfish dog. Baff’s village did not keep dogs because they considered animals only as food. But Afaf was quite familiar with dogs. This one ran up to her instinctively. It was a girl dog and it was obviously very hungry. She handed it a fish and she almost swallowed it whole. Afaf petted the dog and urged Baff to do the same. The dog seemed to befriend them both equally and Baff enjoyed the company as the dog followed them along.

     The next morning they arose to find a mastodon grazing in a small patch where the snow had melted. Baff got very excited as he said “we shall make some new beds out of his belly. The hair is very long there.”

     “But how shall we get it?” Afaf looked puzzled.

     The ground had thawed and Baff looked around for a particularly soft spot and he found some shale rocks with very sharp edges and proceeded to make two shovels. He showed Afaf how to help him soften up the ground with an axe and shovel out the dirt. Before the day ended they had a hole several feet wide and as deep as he was tall. Then he covered the hole with branches and made the cover just strong enough so that he could walk over the top of the hole without falling into it. He made sure to keep an eye on the mastodon throughout the entire process. At that point he told Afaf to position herself far from the hole. She had no idea what this was all about. Baff then got out his spear that he had used to kill fish and he walk over to where the mastodon was grazing and paying them no attention. Afaf yelled to him to get back. “Mastodons will kill you if you anger them and it doesn’t take much.” They were known to be less docile than mammoths. But Baff walked right up to the animal and poked his long nose with the spear. The animal made a loud screeching sound that split the air and it started after Baff on the run. Baff could run a little faster as he got off to a better start than the surprised bull mastodon. He ran straight toward the hole they had dug and right over the top of it. There he stopped abruptly on the other side of the hole. He turned then to face the beast waving his arms. The great animal followed with his head down but when he tried to follow Baff over the hole he fell through the branches that covered it. He stood for a moment looking at Baff. He was up to his stomach in the hole and had obviously injured himself when he stumbled. Baff immediately went to work with his spear that didn’t seem to do too much damage to the mastodon but then he started using the large rocks they had dug out aiming them for what he knew to be vulnerable spots. Soon the beast was down and Baff jumped on it and cut the throat with his one axe he had kept sharp for that purpose.

     Afaf ran to where Baff was standing looking at the beast and began hugging him and said, “Baff you are the wisest man I have ever known and the best hunter. I want to stay with you forever.”

     “All right now we shall have to wait until morning to do the skinning and cutting of meat. I don’t think that the wolves will bother it much. We can’t waste more than one day doing the work so we need to be ready for a busy day. I especially want those tusks.”

     “What would you possibly do with the tusks, Baff?”

     “They are the best weapons you can get. Most men are not wise enough to make use of them but my mother told me how her father protected her using the tusk of a mastodon. I have always remembered that. So now we shall eat and rest. We must have some flaming torches ready and watch for wolves. We can take turns listening.”

     “That will not be necessary Baff, you don’t know the usefulness of dogs but unless I miss my guess she will bark loudly if any wolves come near. I want to keep her with us and you will soon see her usefulness. Some animals are worth more alive than just killed for food. I will name her Suki. I once had a dog by that name.”

     So they ate and slept and the dog did bark once and Baff took a burning log out to chase the wolves away. He was afraid of the dark but his booty was worth the risk. He already could see the usefulness of the dog for more than just warning of wolves. They ate a good breakfast in the morning and this time it was Baff who fed the dog. The dog was very well trained and never took meat that wasn’t offered. “How smart she was,” Baff was thinking out loud.

      They accomplished their work by nightfall and had cleaned the under belly skin and carved many steaks from the beast. Baff got his weapons, Suki got to taste mastodon. All she could eat. Most of it was left for the wolves. Now they could have it.

     The next morning they were on their way again in their continued quest to find Sol. Suki was burdened with a reasonable load of supplies so they were able to carry more food and Baff thought it funny when he strapped the mastodon tusk on the dogs back making her look like a miniature mastodon. The dog certainly was happy with her new found family. Her previous life and where she came from they would never know.


Chapter IX Second Battle


     Two more days travel and the snow was almost gone. Some wild greens were coming through. They stuffed the last mastodon steak with some of them and some mashed roots Baff had found. The meat would not keep any longer so Suki was given another large chunk. They ate at an unusual time today. They did not generally have a mid day meal but they were tired and they wanted to eat the greens and stuff.

     While they were putting things away following the feast Baff saw three men coming very fast. He quickly grabbed the mastodon tusk just in case and surely enough the men came rushing up with their axes held above their heads ready to swing. Baff was ready for them and quickly laid one of them to rest with the tusk. It made for an amazing weapon. He turned just in time to see that Suki had a second man pinned down and was biting at his throat. Within seconds both of these men were dead and the third was retreating as fast as he could run. As he left he called out that he would be back with more help and bigger weapons because his leader insisted that the girl must die to save their tribe. It was no longer a village as they were on the move. They constantly had to move as they were driven by the attacking ice.

     The quest involved a family of three now as Afaf, Baff and Suki moved on toward the sun which was now showing itself for much longer periods each day. Suki had saved their lives and Baff was treating her as if she were a person; a good and faithful friend.

     Several more days of travel brought them to a grassy plain where trees were much more spread apart. Baff decided to make camp early one day saying “I must rest and think about what we should do next.” So they arranged their shelter and fixed a meal of fish with roots and leaves. Three portions were served and eaten and all three of them were resting in the temporary hut made of mastodon skins, lying on soft furs on top of evergreen bows. Suki loved the people and remained always close to them, alert to their surroundings. Baff was able to relax better with the dog around and was getting used to relying on her as a sentry. Baff spoke “We shall travel in this direction one more day and see what things look like. I don’t like being in the open where there are no places to hide. I always lived in the hills. We may alter our course soon and take a more round about path as long as we are getting closer to Sol. We need the forest for protection.” He paused and said, “Sol is much more distant than I had originally thought. We don’t seem to be much closer to him.”

     After breakfast they started out again. It was a very clear day and they could see a long distance. Baff remarked “In the area where Sol sleeps I can see there are mountains. There will be more trees and places to hide if we proceed a little more to that direction. That is what we will do.”

     A few hours passed when Afaf, who had the keenest eye sight said, “I see something strange on the horizon. It looks like mounds of some kind rising from the plain.” After another hour she added “there are things moving around those mounds.” And a little further along she said “Baff there are people. I see many people.”

     Baff thought about that for a few moments and said “yes I can see them now. They can not be the ones who seek you. Those are behind us by at least a few days. There is no use retreating now because if we see them then they see us. They have no reason to harm us. Most people will just live and let live, so I think we should continue. We will be safer from your enemies among people. Let us go and meet these plains people.”  






Chapter X Plains People


     So Afaf, Baff and Suki walked into the village. The dwellings were all made of Bison hides sewn together with vines. They were circular and looked from a distance like mounds. As they walked past some of the domes there were folks sitting in doorways doing nothing except just visiting and laughing. Many people looked them over but no one spoke to them until they were approached by an old man who must have been one of the village leaders. They did not understand his language so they conversed as best they could through sign language. They got across to him that they were from the hills too far away to be seen. Many hands of hands of hands of days travel in the direction from which they had come. The man then shook his head that he understood. Then he pointed to himself and said “Tora.”

     Then Baff said “Hello Tora” and pointing at himself he said “Baff” and pointing to his mate he said “Afaf.” Lastly he pointed at the dog and said “Suki.”

     The old man patted the dog on the head and repeated “Suki.”

     They all smiled at that. Then Tora led them to a round hut and motioned for them to go inside. The abode was completely empty. Afaf said “He is offering us a place to stay, I think.”

     “Yes he is” Baff answered as Tora walked away leaving them there. Soon two young women arrived and lay a wooden tray by the door. It was laden with a wide variety of fruits and nuts. Next there came a boy who handed a fresh fish to the dog. The visitors said nothing but they smiled as they left. Baff remarked “these are good people.”

     “Yes Baff, we are very lucky to have found this place, I feel safe here, soon it will be getting dark, let’s unroll our beds and rest. I’m very tired.” So they made themselves at home and all three slept very well.

     In the morning Baff rekindled the fire he had started the night before and fixed some breakfast. One of the first things he noticed when surveying the village was that not many of the huts had fires. It came to him that wood was not as plentiful as it was in the hills. There were some nut trees and fruit trees around near the village but after thinking about it he concluded that there locations were planned. They seemed to be growing neatly in rows. He had never seen anything quite like it and was not sure how it was accomplished but he vowed to find out.

     There were community fires where several families did their cooking together and ate together. What a novel idea. He was determined to join one of them when it came time for the evening cooking. He realized that they were conserving fire wood. It was not as plentiful as it was in the hills.

     Some of the women seemed to be inviting Afaf to join in some sort of activity. They were carrying sacks made of animal skins of some kind and also they had digging tools. It became obvious that they were going to gather some sort of roots. Afaf asked his permission to join them. He nodded his approval. That exchange made him even more certain that she wanted to be his mate. He was very pleased indeed.   

     As he wandered about he saw a group of men crowding around a hole in the ground. They were engaged in playing a game where one man would stand on each side of the hole and join hands. Then they would tug one another until one of them fell into the hole. It was something like the fighting game they used to play in his old village except that no one seemed to get any injuries here. He soon was invited to join into the game. He could easily see what the rules were. Each man held one hand behind him and with the other hand held the hand of his opponent. Any kind of maneuvering was permissible as long as they held on, but if they let go or fell into the hole they lost the game and the winner had the next bout with someone else. Before the day was over Baff was a champion and was held in very high esteem. At the same time he was learning a few words of their language. It had some similarity with his native speech.

     When Afaf returned with the women it was time to start the evening meal. She joined some of the others in preparing a community dinner and they ate along with several other families. This was a new experience. He hadn’t noticed until now that Suki had accompanied her on her excursion with the women. He also noticed that they did not have dogs in this village. Suki was a novelty to them.

     Later when they were bedded down Afaf related some of the day’s experience. It was not all play but fun anyway. She had also noted some language overlap with her own. Intimate communication was still far off but they could see that it was going to happen. They had a lot of learning to accomplish. But the biggest surprise was the gathering experience. The roots that they had dug looked like rocks but were quite edible and tasty. Baff had eaten some with the evening meal without realizing it. They were wrapped in leaves and cooked in the hot charcoal fire. But the most fantastic discovery was that the women had somehow caused these things to grow. They knew exactly where to find them because they had through magic of some kind created these things. I could not fully understand but I will learn their talk and their secrets. Then Baff told her of the way the fruit and nut trees grew in rows much the same as the plants that she was describing.

     The next day Baff decided that he had a hunger for rabbit so he took his sling and a small sack of stones and started out of the village. He met two men just as he was leaving the village. He knew them from the games and they communicated that they would like permission to accompany him. Of course he assented. Suki also followed along. After walking through the tall grass for a short time a rabbit jumped up and ran. Quick as a wink Baff whirled his sling over his head and let fly a stone which killed the rabbit instantly. After putting the rabbit in his sack he noticed that the other men were staring at him in awe. They communicated that they had never seen a sling before and wanted to look it over. They were amazed at its simplicity. After that they were treated to another first. It was a trick that Baff had only learned by accident as it was taught to him by his dog. In the distance much too far away for a shot from the sling another rabbit jumped. Suki circled around it and chased it directly into a location where Baff easily killed it with his sling. For the observing men this was like magic because rabbit was a rare delicacy and they were very difficult to catch. They generally hunted large land foul such as turkeys. 

     By the middle of the day Baff had his bag full of rabbits and the men had some fascinating stories to tell the others. Baff fixed the evening meal for the group and roasted the rabbits which were stuffed with some vegetables that were previously unknown to him, but they were delicious.    




Chapter XI Tragedy


         Many more hands of time than Baff could count, went by while the couple remained visitors among the Plains People. They grew much more comfortable among them as the time passed. The language came easy. There were similarities with their old ways of speech. In fact they soon found themselves communicating with each other in their new tongue. They were forgetting the old way of talking as time past. They were also forgetting somewhat all of the people of the past. It appeared that Sol had granted them the serenity to accept the things they could not change.

      The rows of trees were all heavy with ripe fruits and nuts of many kinds. Bison were plentiful and new clothing was being produced. There was plenty for everyone. Baff had shown the men his trick for trapping mammoths and mastodon by digging a hole. With many hands digging, it was easy. Living among these folks was a pleasure. Baff was liked by all and he was considered to be the wisest man ever to come to the village. They called him “Slayer of Mastodon.” Life was a pleasure for Baff and his mate, until one day it started to snow.

     The growing season, although well along, was not at its end as yet. Baff soon learned that it had never snowed at this time of the season in this village. The seasons were much warmer than back in the hills and some cold seasons went by with no snow at all. Baff found that hard to believe but these men did not seem the type to lie and when anyone did tell one it was only in jest and soon rectified. The leader soon called a meeting together with the older men and Baff was invited. The men of his age group were not invited but Baff was looked at with great respect. He was an elder in his mind if not in body.

     The main leader, who was called Rangoo, had an extra large round house. It had a large space set aside for meetings of the village elders. Baff noticed that Tora had taken a position beside Rangoo. When all were inside and seated Rangoo spoke thus; “I have called you all together to discuss the very unusual change in the weather. As you know it has turned cold for a few days now and it snows. Many of our women are crying as they are frightened.” Rangoo himself was frightened but thought better of mentioning it. “I am very confused about this very sudden turn from warm to cold. Does anyone have an idea as to how to explain this event? Let us all think hard and I will await some ideas.”

     Baff stepped forward and asked permission to speak. When it was granted he first offered his apologies for not telling the story of why he came to be here but he could not do it at first. It was too much to communicate through sign language alone. So he began his story with the similarity of what happened in his old home in the hills to what is happening here. How it grew cold and snowed heavily in the midst of the warm season causing leaves to fall and plants to die. He became very animated when he told of the stampede of the mammoth heard and how it just continued to grow colder until the women and old folks began to freeze and die and the attack of the great wall of ice. He spoke proudly of Lars and how they prepared for the quest for Sol. He concluded his tale by telling how he had found his mate.

     “Who is Sol?” Rangoo asked.

     “I have realized early in my visit that you folks don’t know of a god. At least you never speak of him. Am I correct in this?”

     “I do not understand what you mean by god.”

     So Baff continued “Sol is God and God is Sol. Sol resides in the sun. It is he that provides the conditions for life itself. We could not exist without him. It came to me that someone in our village had angered Sol but I later found out that there is a much wider area involved than just my village. The ice has followed us where ever we go. It appears to move toward Sol. I have come to believe it to be the enemy of Sol and it is attacking the great one. We started our quest, my father and I, because we thought that by ourselves we could get close to him and tell him that our people are dying. But the quest is changing. I don’t think that Sol knows that he is being sought by the ice. We must warn Sol and employ his assistance. As I speak I am beginning to doubt the possibility of attaining my goal. We have traveled through almost two seasons and are no closer to Sol than when we started. I don’t understand the meaning of this. I can’t believe that Sol is retreating, so I can only conclude that he does not know of the pursuing ice.”

     At that moment several women came through the door, all talking at once. “What has happened?” Rangoo shouted. “Let this one speak for you!” and he pointed at one of them.

     “A group of men have entered the village! They were shouting things we could not understand! They do not speak our language, but they have carried Afaf away with them! She was fighting very hard! She did not want to go!” 

     Baff ran from the meeting to his hut. Suki was right behind him. He had forgotten that the dog had followed him into the meeting and had been resting near the wall. He quickly gathered some things together including temporary shelter, cold weather clothing and weapons which included axe, sling and tusk.

     He started out in the direction of his home village. The bad men that were seeking to harm Afaf had likely come from that direction. They had vacated their village and were on the move. He had to locate their encampment, but how? He hadn’t figured that out as yet.

    Just then he was startled to see several of the plains men were following along. “You men are ill equipped for cold weather,” Baff told them. “It is getting colder and we are traveling in the direction of the ice.”

     There were seven men all together so they decided that four of them would collect some cold weather gear from the village and catch up to the rest after dark. They were not sun worshippers and would not fear the dark.

     Soon they were following a trail that looked very much like one used by mammoths. Mammoths had a habit of following the beaten paths. Toward the end of the day they were standing at a fork unsure as to which way to go. Baff arbitrarily took the trail in the general direction of Sol’s morning arising. But he no sooner started on that path he noticed that Suki was taking the other going toward Sol’s evening abode although they were no longer going toward Sol at all but were traveling away from the sun. He quickly changed his mind saying, “Suki, I know how you follow Afaf most of the time. I wish you were with her when the men came for her. I have noticed that you have an instinct that is lacking in men. You find rabbits that you are not able to see. I don’t understand how you do it but you do. I am going to let you make this decision.” He was talking to the other men as well as to the dog. “The men that follow with supplies will see our footsteps in the snow.”

      When it got too dark to go on they threw together a makeshift shelter of skins and put together a quick meal and before they were sleeping very long they were joined by the four men with ample supplies.  




Chapter XII There is a Solution


      Three more days of travel and they sighted smoke from campfires in the distance. Suki had led them directly to the encampment. There were more trees now and they were not yet seen by the tribal camp. So they got together and had a long discussion about how to proceed.

     Baff could tell that the men were very much afraid. He reasoned that it was because they had no god. Baff knew that if he were to be killed he would be safe and warm with Sol. He was sure of that. He felt sorry for those without this knowledge.

     He very shortly came to a decision that ended the discussion. He, Baff, would enter the encampment and try to reason with the leader or leaders. It was obvious that they were far too numerous to overpower. He felt that Afaf was still alive. If they were going to execute her immediately they didn’t have to bring her here to do it. Their thinking must have changed since their last encounter. Baff told his companions that they could remain outside of the camp until he returned but they insisted on going in with him even though they were frightened. They hadn’t come this far to sit on the sidelines.

      So the small group marched into the camp. They were stared at from all directions but as yet no one had spoken to them. Baff was sure that he could communicate with them as they must speak the language that Afaf used when they met. He just would have to talk slow. He also knew that his companions would not understand.

      Baff finally spoke to a man who stood staring at him close by. “I would like to be presented to your leaders and an immediate meeting should be called together.”

      The small group of plains men and Baff were taken to a large temporary structure made of various skins and they were ushered inside. Soon they were joined by several of what appeared to be the village elders. The first to speak was probably the leader. “Who are you people and what quest brings you to our camp?” Then he introduced himself as Bing the leader of what used to be a village.

     “I am Baff. My father was Lars, the leader of the Village Cora. I have heard of Bing. I have heard that you are very wise and very fair. My quest is to find my mate Afaf who has mysteriously disappeared from the village of the plains people where we were guests.”

     “Well Baff, your mate is a prisoner here in our camp. She was once a member of our village in the hills, as you most likely know. My elders believe that our god Sol is angry because Afaf did not attend our last festival in his honor. I am beginning to doubt that there is a connection there at all but I am only one vote. We have been discussing the matter ever since she arrived. I can overrule the elders but seldom take that step. Since the matter could be resolved by executing your mate I am inclined to do just that. After all it is not difficult to find a mate. We have many available here.”

     “Bing you are great and wise. But may I take a bold step and address you and your elders? I may want to pause at times to interpret for my men who do not understand our tongue.”

     “Yes you may speak, Baff, you must be wise if you are the son of Lars; I will ask my men to remain silent until you finish.”

     So Baff spoke thus “I am honored to be heard by one as great as Bing and I am sure that all of his elders must be very wise indeed. I can understand why you might feel that Afaf not attending the festival would anger Sol. But your leader does not appear to agree so it is you the elders that I must convince. Let me start by saying that I am one who observes and respects the intelligence of the animals. For example, observe sometime the coyote. He follows his mother for a long while after his birth and learns much from her even though she is female. When he becomes a young adult he seeks out a mate. When he finds one that satisfies him he hangs on to her for the rest of his life and if she should die before him he remains alone until he dies. His mate is very important to him. He will fight to the death for her. Am I not wiser than the coyote? Does he possess knowledge that is too complex for me to grasp?

     “More important perhaps Bing if I may be so bold, I want to point out to your elders that you and I have thought this thing through a little better than they.” There was a little grumbling in the background at that statement but Bing raised his hand for silence and Baff continued. “I’m sorry if I offend your men here but they need to listen more than they need to talk! Our villages, both of them, were attacked by great walls of ice! Some of our women and old folks froze to death in the cold of the nights. But it is not just our villages that suffer. We are far from our homes and we still freeze. The plains people are suffering great hardships because it is suddenly turning cold for them. Listen to me you elders, are your minds that small that you believe that Sol is making the whole world suffer because of the action of one helpless little girl. I think not. Wake up you fools and look around you.” At this point there was great rumbling from the crowd and again Bing held up his hand for silence. Baff went on. “You can’t really think, if you take a minute to analyze the situation, that Sol is that dumb. He does not punish our village or the plains village for some minor infraction that occurred in your village. Look around you. You never knew the world was this large. I have traveled two full seasons and am no closer to Sol than When I started. I know that it upsets you men that I speak thus but you brought it on yourselves by not listening to Bing who is many hands of hands wiser than any of you. I myself have figured this whole situation out while you men still struggle with the simplest aspect of it. You should be ashamed of your selves. Leave the thinking to someone more capable.” Bing was smiling now. “While you quarrel over the fate of my mate Afaf, snow is falling on the plains where it has never fallen before. The rivers are freezing over in mid summer during prime fishing season. I say to you go someplace else with your petty arguments and allow Bing and Baff to come up with a solution to save you from freezing to death because without us that is what will happen to you.

     “The only way to save your selves is the same way I have saved myself and my mate and that is by traveling closer to Sol. He is the source of all that is good. The closer we get the warmer it gets. And let me tell you something else, I believe that within a short time, although a little more than I can count, the plains people will also be freezing. Can’t you feel it coming?

     “If I may be permitted one last point I want to conclude my entreaty.”

     Bing said “by all means Baff. Even though you have angered my elders I agree with your assessments and my elders need a good scolding from a sage right now.”

     So Baff continued “I spoke of how the coyote protects his mate with his life if need be. I have learned from the coyote. I will protect my mate with my life. I don’t have a word for my feelings for Afaf. I have never heard the idea expressed in words yet the idea exists. Even with animals who no not words. They can think without words, very powerful thoughts. So I shall do as the mammoth and the mastodon and the coyote do. Without knowing exactly why, I shall protect my mate. If any still wish to slay her I suspect that you will succeed in doing that but you must kill me first and I promise that before I go down many will perish. I will leave a trail of blood as long as the great river before I am killed. I will not, however live to see Afaf killed. This last thought is not a threat. It is not meant to express hatred of anyone for I do not harbor hatred. I am only stating a fact. Many will die before Afaf can be killed because she is innocent of any wrong doing. Many women feel ill at times and miss events. What a foolish notion that this should anger Sol. Thus I have concluded and I thank the Great wise one, Bing, for the opportunity to speak.” And with this Baff wiped his brow with a cloth and sat by the fire.

     Bing and his men retired to another hut to talk things over. It didn’t take long.

     When he returned he looked at Baff for a moment and said “I have chastised my men for being petty in this matter. Now I must ask a favor of you.”

     “I suspect that I will grant you a favor just tell me what it is.”

     “Baff I want to talk to the leader of the plains men but I need an interpreter. I want you to accompany me as an interpreter.”

     “Bing you are wiser than anyone else in this village but I must refuse this request.”

     “Why do you refuse?”

     “I will accompany you but not as an interpreter. We should leave immediately as time is getting short. People will begin to freeze. The ice is rapidly approaching. Here are the conditions. I am going to propose that I be made leader of all of the villages combined so that I can lead us all to a safe place close to Sol where we can live in peace and comfort. Let’s put first things first. Afaf must be released immediately with all charges against her forgotten. She, Afaf should be interpreter as she is an expert with all of our languages. Can you get your elders to agree to these terms?”

     “That is not a problem Baff as I have temporarily relieved them of there posts. They must follow our directives or be left behind. And yes, at least for the duration of our journey you will be in charge. All we need do is convince the plains people and I do believe they are frightened enough to follow along, they will for their own survival. They need our experience with the cold. They are warm climate folks.”             

     Afaf was brought out of her captivity and presented to Baff who took her hand and said “you are my captive now if you want to be.”

     “Yes Baff I am your mate for life. I overheard your speech and have never been prouder of you. You are a hero among heroes. And you will lead us all to safety. We’ll, of course, continue our quest for Sol.”

     “Afaf I remember my mother telling me a story about the struggles her parents had to go through in order to prosper. She said that when times got really tough her elders told her that no human power could help them. But God could and would if he were sought.

     “What a beautiful person your mother must have been and wise beyond words.”

     “Yes Afaf, I realize now that it is in seeking Sol that our salvation lays not in the finding. We will never find him I can see that now but as long as we have been seeking him we have survived. So that is what we will do Afaf, my life long coyote, my mate.”



     John Baff opened his eyes for the first time in several days. There was a nurse standing beside him taking his blood pressure. “John, you’re awake!”

     “Yes I’m awake. Who are you?”

     “I’m Jenifer a nurse.”    

     “How long have I been sleeping?”

     “You’ve been in an alcoholic coma for a few days, Mr. Baff.”

     “Speaking of alcohol, I could use a drink right now. When can I get out of here? After saying that he tried getting up and found that he was too weak to even sit up.”

      Then John asked “Has my wife called?”

     “She’s camped out in the waiting room. She’s been here ever since you came in.”

     John looked surprised and said, “I thought that she had taken the kids and gone to her mother’s house. She said that I’m nothing but a drunken idiot and she wanted a divorce. I can’t believe she’s here.”

     “Well she’s been here John, most of the time at your bedside.”

     John’s eyes filled with tears as he said “how can she still love me after the way I’ve treated her?”

     The nurse took his hand and replied, “Women are strange animals John. They don’t give up easily. Shall I call your wife?”

     “Yeah, I need my coyote wife” John answered as he wiped his eyes.

     The nurse was confused by that last remark but she just said “By the way John, you had two other visitors, Rob and Bill, They left their phone numbers. I can call them if you want to talk to them.”

     “I don’t know who they are.”

     “They are from AA. They brought you here. They said they could be here in minutes if you want to talk.”

      The mention of AA caused a name to flash suddenly through John’s consciousness. He didn’t know why, since he never knew anyone by that name, but the name was Afaf.  He was puzzled but he quickly responded with, “OK Jenifer, I guess I need to talk to them.”       

     The End



Donehogawa - A Novel by Burr




     Being one of the John Alden kindred, a 9th generation descendant, I have always wanted to know more about the life of the Mayflower passengers. The stories are not well documented. This story has no resemblance to fact. It is entirely fiction. The only truth in the entire writing is the names of some of the passengers who resided at Plymouth Plantation and some of the Native Americans that they may have interfaced with.     –Burr


Chapter I Trouble with the Earl


     His name was Edward Brandon Gulvin but his close acquaintances all knew him as just plain Brandon. He was a family man and a good provider working at his own business building fishing boats. He did some fishing as well to supplement his income. He enjoyed sailing.

     He had a wife Marie and two boys, Jerald, Jerry age 7 and William, Billy age 10. Both boys had attended school for a couple years but were now helping with the boat building. His home near Plymouth, England, had access to the sea.

     Brandon knew that his common law wife had been the daughter of an Earl. She had always felt and acted his superior even though she had been disowned by the Earl and cast on her own. He also knew that she had been contacted recently by servants of the Earl although he had no idea what it was about until the night that he came home to find her gone.

     His wife had left a note saying that she was making a trip to visit her father the Earl and that the round trip would take two days. Her father had sent along the money to pay for the trip. Brandon had always loved his wife but had no more hope of reconciliation. That had dissipated years ago but he thought that she should at least have the decency to tell him in person about the trip. He could not imagine what the Earl wanted with her after all these years.

     Four days went by and he had not heard from Marie. Brandon was at work with his two sons in his boat shop located on a pier not far from home. He had left their lunch at home and sent Jerry to fetch it. When Jerry returned he had a note that had been left on the table next to the lunch basket. 

    The note read: My dear husband, as you know I am the daughter of the Earl of_______ and was disowned by him when I became your wife. He has recently contacted me and wants to bring me back into his family. He found that I have two male children and since he has no heirs, he would like to get to know them. I will come for them in two weeks and bring them to live in the castle. I know that you are happy building boats and even though the boys help you they can’t be indispensable at their age. You might consider partnering with your good friend and neighbor Andrew. Well, that is your affair. I know that you will not be sad to see me leave. -- Signed Marie.

     Brandon sat quietly for a long while still holding the note in his hand until he was approached by both sons. He was so stunned that he didn’t notice Billy taking the note from his hand. Billy could barely read. He had been to school for two years, but he got the idea behind the letter and shared it with Jerry.

     When Brandon finally came to his senses he said “Boys I didn’t want you to see the note.”

     “I will run away before I will go to that place. I have seen the inside of a castle and I know of the ways of an aristocrat such as an Earl. I’ll not go.” As Billy made this outburst, Jerry followed with a similar statement. 

     Brandon sat thinking for a while and his boys left him alone and went about their work but things weren’t the same. Eventually Brandon got up and went to visit his friend Andrew who had a boat shop on the same dock. 


Chapter II Building a Boat


     He found Andrew working on a very strange looking craft. It looked like two very large dinghies side by side and connected by planks between them forming a deck. The dinghies were about 35 feet in length and each was about 8 feet in width. The deck between them was a little more than 4 feet wide making the total width of the craft close to 20 feet.

     He also noticed that Andrew had a new helper who looked to be very foreign with dark skin and very long black hair. Brandon had many questions he wanted to ask all at one time. “Who’s your new helper Andrew, where is he from and what in the world are you building? It barely fits in your boat barn.”

     “Well to answer your questions one at a time, my helper is Donehogawa. He is from America and comes from a group of natives called The Wampanoag People. He was brought to this country against his will and escaped from his captors. He came here to me looking for a boat to go back in. But he doesn’t realize how difficult that trip would be in fact it would be impossible alone.”

     “That’s interesting. About 5 or 6 years ago a friend of mine left for America with a group of people on their way there from Holland. They hired my friend as a cooper. His name was John Alden. I heard back from him after a couple years and he said that they had arrived safe enough. I understand that they suffered great hardships for the first winter but are doing fine now.”

     Brandon answered. “So what is this monster boat your building?”

     “My friend Donehogawa and I plan to go to America, the new world. Donehogawa can speak some English but not very well. He’s getting better at it though. But he speaks the languages of the new world very well.”

     “Tell me Andrew, how do you plan to get this monster out of the boathouse?”

     “I will tear down the building. I won’t need it anymore. I will use some of the materials to build a cabin for my ship. I don’t want to reveal it however, until I have to.”

     “When do you plan to go?”

     “In a week we’ll be ready.” Then Andrew took note of Brandon’s appearance “You look troubled my friend.”

     Then Brandon told him the whole story about his wife leaving which didn’t bother him as much as loosing his boys. Then he said “I have a good mind to join you on your journey.”

     “Why don’t you Brandon, your boys will certainly be safe from the Earl. We need help with the sails and rudder and navigation and all sorts of things. We also need a lot more supplies.”

     “Andrew, that sounds like an answer to my prayers. I don’t know what my boys will think about it. I’m sure there is a lot of danger involved.”

     “Yes there is, Brandon.”

     So Brandon talked to Jerry and Billy about the prospect. They both were ready to leave today. “This will be a very dangerous voyage.” He told them. “And a lot of hard work will be involved.”

     “I’m ready so let’s get started.” Billy shouted and Jerry agreed.

     “If we do this we must keep it a secret until we are ready to go.” Brandon warned. “We will have to start selling everything we have in order to obtain provisions.” So the boys went right to work selling their tools and household goods and buying barrels of victuals, concentrating on things that would keep the longest. Brandon warned them not to sell to people that knew them well.

     Andrew had a plan to purchase much of their supplies at a port in Ireland that he was familiar with, thinking that this would help keep their departure a secret longer. He also had a plan to pile the lumber from his boat house on the deck of his craft and do much of the cabin building after setting sail. The secret would have to be revealed at least one day prior to departure but that would not give the Earl time to react or even know what was happening. Andrew had also admitted to Brandon that that he was deeply in debt and needed to slip away as quietly as possible. Brandon remarked “We are both fugitives so let’s get moving.”

     The next week was spent making two water proof holds for keeping supplies safe. After loading everything into the craft they knocked the floor out from under the boat landing it in the water and at low tide they brought it into the open. Before completely destroying Andrew’s boat house they used his winch to raise the main mast and the cross bar with the main sail rolled up around it. Brandon had sold his boats and boat house. He let them go cheap as he wanted to do it as quietly as possible. After installing the mast they placed the boards and supplies on the deck for putting together a cabin.



Chapter III The Embarkation


     They set sail in the dark of night. Brandon and his two sons and Andrew were experienced sailors. Donehogawa was anxious to learn and helped with the work with enthusiasm. He wanted to go home. It was early spring and still rather cold, but they wanted to reach the new world before winter set in again. Andrew was an expert at navigating by the heavens and a good compass. He had all of the tools he needed.

     When daylight came they could barely see land and they were miles from Plymouth. Donehogawa told them that his home was only one days walk from the place that had been named Plymouth in America. The group had decided to shoot for landing near Donehogawa’s people. Donehogawa was an important member of his tribe and he assured his fellow travelers that they would be well received by his people who were very friendly. They would be indebted to the group for helping one of their own to return home.

     Andrew was not sure of the speed of his craft so he did not attempt to estimate the time of arrival at Wexford, in Ireland. He had been there and knew that it was an easy harbor to maneuver and trading for supplies would be easy. He knew someone there. So they went to work building a cabin to keep out the weather. It took shape rather quickly and was improved on many times during the voyage. 

    On April 4th they had been at sea four days and Jerry realized that it was his birthday. He was now eight years old. Brandon made a fruit pie and a special stew and work was stopped for the evening celebration. The small cook stove was just outside of the cabin and there was plenty of extra lumber on board for fire wood. Meal time came and the men sat around the stove, all but Jerry. He could not be found. Suddenly Andrew pointed up at the mast and there was Jerry at the top. The mast had been notched to facilitate climbing. It was a good thirty feet tall and was starting to sway as the wind was picking up.

     “Come down at once.” Brandon shouted.

     “I can’t, I’m afraid I’ll fall.”

     Quick as a wink Donehogawa started up the mast. He was still several feet from the top when Jerry lost his grip and fell. Donehogawa saw what was about to happen and had one powerful arm held out to catch him, which he did with ease.

     Once back on the deck Jerry was shaking with fear both from the high mast scare and from anticipation of his father’s wrath. But instead of punishing, his father just grabbed him and hugged him. “There will be many dangers involved in this journey. We don’t need to create any!” he exclaimed.

     The breeze was picking up steam as the birthday meal concluded and Andrew had an idea. He attached five ropes to the mast and made a loop in the end of each. He told the crew “we will attach one of these ropes to one of our legs when the wind blows or when we are resting on deck so that we will not be swept overboard.”

     Then Donehogawa suggested in his broken English mixed with sign language “Since I am an experienced climber I will make it my job to take care of the main sail. I can see how to attach it at the top of the mast and how to lower it when it gets too windy. Andrew will tell me how it is to be positioned to maintain our course.” The others all agreed. And the entire group was assigned chores. 

    At the end of the first week the cabin was quite livable with bunks that were raised from the floor to keep them dry. On the seventh night they rested. It was dry with not a lot of wind. The sails were full however, with a slight breeze. The men had brought there sleeping gear onto the deck and secured themselves with the ropes and lay looking at the millions of stars. There was very little moon but it was still quite light from the stars, it was so clear. With most of the work out of the way the men were telling stories and getting better acquainted than they had ever been. Even though they were neighbors for a long time they had never been so informal. Jerry and Billy had attended school for a couple years and had learned many stories and works of poets. But some of the most exciting stories were told by Donehogawa. The young boys were unbelievably fast in picking up his language and translated for Andrew and Brandon much of what they didn’t quite get. It was a very good night for the entire group. They were feeling more and more like brothers. Up until this special night they had kind of looked at Donehogawa as a foreigner but no more. He suddenly became human and even boyish and he turned out to have one of the best senses of humor the boys had ever run into. He seemed more like one of them than like an adult even though he was middle aged. He was very child like in his mannerisms but he took his work very serious.

     Donehogawa quickly became an expert sailor. He was brought up on canoes. His first experience with a big ship was when he was brought to England as a prisoner. Even though he had been a prisoner he didn’t require restraint once they were at sea. There was no place he could go to escape. But once in England he did not remain captive for long. He was not the dumb savage they thought him to be. When he came to Andrew he was looking to steal a boat and return home but Andrew stopped him and explained how foolish such an attempted trip would be. They quickly became friends and Andrew gave him work and a place to sleep. Andrew had lived alone in his boat factory. Andrew’s private thoughts were that it was a little foolhardy attempting the trip in their present situation but he kept those thoughts to himself.

    Another week went by before land was spotted. They had arrived at Ireland exactly where Andrew had pointed them. As soon as they docked Andrew found his friend who was owner of the pier and was also a boat builder. His friend, John McDonald, let them tie up their craft. He inspected the boat and was positively astounded by it. He had never conceived of such a design but he had to admit that it just might turn out to be sea worthy.

     John spent a day with the group as they purchased barrels of potatoes, pickles, apples, pears and dried meats and lots of bacon. They tried to load up with things that would not spoil too quickly. They had nets for fishing so they would have fresh sea foods. Also fresh water and beer were brought on board to drink. The Irish and the English believed that water was not good to drink in quantities but beer was healthy. They also had invented some ingenious ways of catching rain water which they especially preferred for bathing.

     That evening John McDonald was invited on board for a feast and lots of beer drinking. It was considered sinful to get drunk but on the boat they forgot their manners and let loose. Donehogawa fell overboard and had to be rescued from the cold ocean waters, but all were laughing as it was carried out and Donehogawa was secured with a rope to prevent a repeat performance until he came to his senses again.



Chapter IV The Open Sea


     When morning came Donehogawa was busy with the sails even though he felt a little sick, but the craft was soon on the open sea again. About mid day they were out of sight of land when it was discovered that John was sleeping in the ships hold. One of the holds, as there was two of them. This was nearly a disaster as they would have to waste another day at least to get him home again.

     When John was awakened he just laughed as he said, “I’m as big a fool as the rest of you but please don’t turn back. My wife ran off several months ago because I got drunk too often and my pier and boat barn are about to be taken by the money lenders who I owe more than I will earn in my lifetime. Give me another glass of beer while I figure out what my job will be on this floating Garden of Eden.” So it was quickly settled. John was the sixth member of the crew and seemed to be just as fun loving as the rest and just as happy to leave the old life behind for the lure of the unknown.  

     A celebration was held on May 3rd for Billy’s 11th birthday. They had a cake made by Brandon who knew how to bake. There was plenty of flour and sugar but after the party they decided that they would have to ration the beer. Some of it seemed to be disappearing and Donehogawa was suspected. Without any chastising or discussion Brandon marked the Beer kegs as pickled pears. That seemed to resolve the problem. John was assigned the job of keeping track of food supplies and rationing where necessary. He also busied himself with assembling a couple small dinghies for life boats, hoping they would never be needed and doubting their usefulness.   

     As the month of May came to a close the ocean air was getting much colder and the men were dressed in long coats and warm boots. The boat was pointed in a south westerly direction. None of them except for Donehogawa had ever been this far out to sea. They had fished around Ireland but never this far from land. The group was becoming more and more like members of a family. They treated one another like brothers. The four men were all middle aged and in good physical condition. Donehogawa was by far the most agile and climbed around the craft like he was born to be a sailor. The rest of the family realized that they would never have made it this far without him.

     One night around mid June Brandon was surprised to find Jerry and Billy sitting on top of the cabin with Donehogawa talking in Donehogawa’s native tongue. They seemed to be conversing as if they had spoken the language all of their lives. “Kids pick things up so quickly,” he thought to himself. Brandon thought he would like to know what they were saying. This gave him an idea. He suggested that they set aside an hour each day for the study of the language. They certainly had plenty of time to spare and since the first people they would meet in the new world would be Wampanoag they should be able to talk with them at some level. So classes were held each night after eating their evening meal and Donehogawa turned out to be a good teacher.

     One night toward the end of July while all but John were sleeping a sudden burst of thunder was heard. The men took turns watching for such things and also noting changes in wind direction. Even though the craft did possess a rudder it was rarely used, it was tied in a straight line. John quickly awakened the crew and they all were consulted about the coming weather. Nature soon answered their questions about what it was doing when a gust of wind caught them off guard and nearly swept them overboard. Andrew shouted “tie yourselves down quickly with the tether ropes,” which they all did. Another stronger gust caught the sails and lifted one side of the boat out of the water and a loud crack was heard.

     “Where is Donehogawa?” Brandon shouted. They all looked around and didn’t see him at first. Then they saw the sail coming down and Donehogawa was working the ropes to roll the sail around the lower cross beam. The others quickly pitched in to help. The wet sail was heavy and the wind was whipping the boat around like it was a toy.

     As soon as the sails were secure the men all huddled inside the cabin but they were already soaked to the skin. The sea was very rough and they could do nothing now but hang on for dear life and shiver with the cold. The entire crew was sea sick when daylight started to appear and the wind died down with the coming of the sun. As soon as he could see Andrew began to inspect his unique craft. He quickly discovered that at least half of the boards making up the deck area down the middle of the ship were broken and the ship was in danger of breaking in half should another storm come up. Without eating breakfast Andrew instructed the men and boys to all pitch in and patch the broken deck using some planks that were still stored in the hold. Andrew was an artist at carving pegs to hold them together and Brandon and John were experienced boat builders as well and the mending soon took shape. Donehogawa busied himself hoisting the sails again.                                               

      It was several hours before anyone thought of eating. They had all been too sea sick to eat in the morning but now it was calm again and the sun was shining. They all realized that their clothes had dried and they finally were comfortable again. The ocean air never got real hot but it had warmed enough to enjoy a late afternoon meal. A fire was started and Brandon had made some bread and cooked some vegetables and fresh fish. The work was far from finished but Andrew was satisfied that the craft would hold together for another day so they all stretched out to rest in the sun and when it got dark they retired to the bunks in the cabin. After several days of hard work Andrew was satisfied that the ship was stronger than before and would withstand another storm.



Chapter V Land


     It was late September when land was sighted. Nearly six months had passed since they set sail. Supplies were nearly all depleted. They were eating whatever fish they could net and some pickled pears were left since no one was fond of them. The crew was exhausted and hungry. They were drinking rain water. The one good thing was that the weather was warmer as the land grew near. They had rounded the tip of a cape that Andrew had known was there from discussions with sailors that returned from there.

     As they approached the main land it was Andrew’s plan to beach his craft at high tide in order to get as much of it on land as possible. He picked a spot that was somewhat sandy and with a large tree straight ahead that he could use to attach the winch with ropes and haul the boat as far as possible from the water. This they did. Their plan now was to rest up and find food and then level the ship so it could be used as a starting point for building a shelter. They all knew that the boat would never be used again and that it was not capable of returning them to England even if they wanted to go.  

    After securing the craft they could hear the cry of a raven from nearby. Donehogawa jumped up and made a reply sounding exactly like the raven. Within a couple of minutes they found themselves surrounded by natives. One of the natives came forward and put his hand on Donehogawa’s shoulder and they quickly engaged in rapid conversation. Jerry turned to his father and said “that is Donehogawa’s brother. He thought at first that he was seeing Donehogawa’s spirit. He was thought to have perished. His brother had to touch him to be sure he was real. Donehogawa is now explaining how he was taken over the great water and escaped from his captors and how we five had brought him home and endured great hardship in getting here.”

     Donehogawa introduced his brother Osceola who immediately made the sign of peace to each man. A runner was sent to inform the great Sachem Massasoit of the arrival and the entire group of natives and new comers moved to a nearby hunting camp where women were already preparing a feast. The group was treated to many things they had never tasted including moose, bear, corn, squash, pumpkin, various shell fish, and a corn meal mush with berries. They all ate until they were barely able to make it back to the boat where they bedded down for the night. Donehogawa stayed with his people.

     In the morning Donehogawa brought the Sachem Massasoit to meet them. The great leader was pleased at how well the young men could speak his language. There was a settlement at New Plymouth, one days walk to the north where none had become that adept with the language. They used an interpreter by the name of Squanto to communicate. Later when the white men had a chance to talk by themselves they agreed that the Sachem was not at all on very friendly terms with Plymouth. They all agreed that they were well liked by the Sachem Massasoit and that they in turn liked him. The great leader of his people was impressed that all of the white men could understand some of the language of the Wampanoag. The classes that Donehogawa held each night of the latter half of the Journey had really paid off.

     The men all agreed that they would like to visit Plymouth but were in no hurry. The first thing they did after resting and eating for a couple days was to employ Donehogawa’s help in getting a few more hands to help winch the boat up the beach to a bluff about 100 yards from the sea at high tide and to do some leveling. They felt it safe to make a home there. For a while they were content to live in their cabin on board but little by little in the future they would use the lumber to build a permanent structure a little more protected by trees in the nearby forest.

     Soon they learned that there was a settlement of English speaking people further north from Plymouth at a place they called Cape Ann and one was springing up a little south of that and was known as Salem. They would wait until they were more comfortable with the Wampanoags before asking for a guide to help them travel. They were determined to make their permanent home here and they called the place Cod as that was what the natives called the first fish that they caught.

     Also, they soon learned that the natives had several villages nearby. They seamed to be spread out over a wide area. Billy and Jerry quickly got to know many of the young men of the tribe and learned the games that they played and more importantly they learned how to make bows and arrows and spears. They quickly picked up their methods of spearing fish both fresh water and salt water varieties. The adults in turn picked up many tricks for gathering food from the boys. Shell fish of all kinds were plentiful and as cold weather crept in the native peoples helped keep them supplied with food. Donehogawa divided his time between his own people and the English settlement of Cod.

     With the coming of the new year of 1627 Donehogawa came to the new settlement and spoke to the men very seriously about a sickness that was creeping through the villages to the north. The natives believed that it was in some way caused by the latest arrival of foreigners at Salem as some of them were ill.

     Sachem Massasoit consulted his new friends from across the great sea about the matter of the illness and the men were very honest with them. Brandon spoke in the native’s language, “there are many diseases that the white men can catch in England that may not have a great effect on them. But your people who have never been in contact with such things may get very sick with them. It could be a sickness called small pox or any one of a number of things. My advice to your people whom I have grown to like very much is to advise all natives to avoid any contact with those folks up there. These illnesses are communicated through contact and you only need to get close to a sick person to catch the sickness. We will also avoid them. Obviously none of us have any of these diseases or we would have gotten sick at sea and likely would have died. If any of your people become sick they should be separated from the village and given enough food and water to last for a month. If they are still alive after a moon it should be safe to approach them. That is the only way to prevent a widespread epidemic.”

     Massasoit thanked Brandon for his honest advice and said, “I have grown to trust your group although I am leery of most white men. Many of them do not tell us the truth. So far your group has proven to be different. I respect you. Let us smoke.”

     Massasoit brought out a pipe; something the new comers had never seen but they enjoyed puffing the smoke of peace. They offered the Sachem some beer which he had never tasted. He liked it but he was warned not to drink too much and they told him of Donehogawa falling overboard after drinking too much. The great Sachem, leader of his people laughed heartily and again thanked the men for saving the life of his loyal brave Donehogawa. Massasoit fell asleep by the fire which the men took turns feeding since it was a cold night. They also covered the great leader with blankets and he slept well. One of his women came for him in the morning. 



Chapter VI   Visiting Plymouth


     Massasoit was growing very fond of beer. The English were of the belief that water was not good for you if used exclusively to quench ones thirst. Beer was a staple. Andrew was very good at making beer and the natives furnished plenty of grains to facilitate that production but he had to limit the share that Massasoit was using. Brandon suggested that it wasn’t good for him to over use the beverage so they made up excuses for not being able to make it any faster.

     The beer situation was well under control as the snow melted and spring weather came to the settlement. Brandon decided that he should visit his only acquaintance in the new world in the person of John Alden at Plymouth.

     John, Andrew and Brandon discussed the trip to Plymouth in the privacy of their evolving house in the woods. They had learned that Massasoit himself had been there and was well known to the men there. There was a member of the tribe living part time at Plymouth and acting as an interpreter. His name was Squanto. The men were astounded that in all this time no one at Plymouth had learned the language of the natives. Massasoit was familiar with and had met the leaders at Plymouth such as John Carver, Stephen Hopkins, Edward Winslow, William Bradford, and Miles Standish and he had heard the name of John Alden and he was sure that John was still there although he was working some land a few hours distant from the plantation.

     It was decided that the men would leave the next day and they had employed Donehogawa and a group of six natives to travel along and at the last minute Massasoit himself decided that he wanted to go. It was thought that his decision was helped along by the fact that the English would not travel without a supply of beer to drink.

     So the group spent most of the next day walking to Plymouth. Billy and Jerry stayed behind. They wanted to join their new friends on a hunting excursion and Donehogawa assured Brandon that they would be safe. They had many friends now among the young men of the tribe and were learning to be excellent hunters. So the three men and seven natives camped near Plymouth overnight, planning to make their presence known in the morning which they did. Plymouth Plantation consisted of one street proceeding up an incline to a public meeting house where they halted and were joined by a group of local men. The women were also very curious but remained somewhat out of sight for a while.

     John Carver was first to speak, “I am not surprised by a visit from natives but am very surprised to see Europeans among you.” It was then that he realized the presence of Massasoit. “I am surprised by the visit from the great chief himself. We are not often so honored. I will summon our interpreter Squanto.

     “That will not be necessary.” Brandon spoke up. “We are quite familiar with the language of the Wampanoag.” Then he turned and spoke to the sachem in his own tongue. Carver and his crew were astounded at that.

     “Who are you and how is it that you are here?” William Bradford asked.

     Andrew answered him “We are travelers of the world and came to visit our friends in the new world.”

     Edward Winslow asked; “who are these friends?”

     “We are surrounded by them right now.” John McDonald answered as he swept his hand around at the natives.

     Brandon spoke next saying “I have met one of your group by the name of John Alden.”

     The entire group was invited into the meeting house and the preparation of a feast was begun. John Alden was summoned and quickly arrived with his wife Priscilla and two children Elizabeth and John Jr. Brandon and John soon recognized each other though it had been several years and they greeted with friendly gestures. “Where is your wife, Brandon?” John asked after introducing his own family.

     “My wife left me to return to the home of her father the Earl of ______. My two boys are a day’s journey south of here enjoying a hunting trip with their Wampanoag friends.”

     After a day of feasting and enjoying the meeting of new friends the natives returned to their encampment along with John and Andrew while Brandon visited the Alden home where he told his friend of all the details that inspired him to leave England. The main reason being that he could not suffer the loss of his children. And that the discovery of Donehogawa and Andrew building a sailing craft for the crossing made up his mind for him. Lastly Brandon asked that their presence in the new world should remain a secret in as much as that would be possible. John said “that shouldn’t be a problem. We are visited about once a year by a ship returning to England from Salem but were reluctant to board it last fall because of sickness in Salem and north of there. The natives in that area are suffering great losses of life and it is spreading fast.”

     “Yes, John, we know of that and have advised our friends to the south to avoid any contact up there.”

     Branded visited late that night with the Alden family and vowed to return soon. “I must get back to my boys tomorrow. I have never left them for so long, but they are quite safe. They speak the language of the natives fluently.”

     “That amazes me, Brandon.”

     “If you had spent six months at sea with our good friend Donehogawa, you would be speaking his tongue. If for no other reason you would want to enjoy his humor.”

     John lamented “That is something I regret. We have not spent enough time with the natives. We have been a little stand offish. They are such a friendly people but are looked at by some as mere savages. That is unfortunate.”

     Brandon was startled by the sudden sound of a baby crying. Pricilla who had been sitting quietly by the fire got to her feet saying, “I must go in the other room and nurse the baby. I will say goodbye to you now, Brandon. It has been a pleasant surprise to meet you folks and I hope you will come back again soon. It is good that you came today since John plans to leave tomorrow for our land across the bay and will stay until planting is done. John, I have warmed some fish head soup. It is hanging near the fire. You and your guest may enjoy it. Remember to eat the eyes. You need them to improve your reading ability.”    

     After enjoying the soup and saying his goodbyes to his old friend, Brandon found his way back to the encampment. He slept well and in the morning they left for Cod. The morning was chilly but he had a warm coat to put on. He wondered at the fortitude of the natives who seemed oblivious to the cold. They moved along at a fast pace and were home by mid afternoon.

     When they split up with the natives the white men approached there ever evolving new home of boat parts. One of the first things they saw was a moose hanging from a tree, out of reach of bears. Billy and Jerry were there and they displayed their pride as they told of shooting the moose with arrows they had made. They were rapidly becoming adept at the Native American culture. What a pity, they thought, that those at Plymouth had not made more progress at that.



Chapter VII The Sickness


     Throughout the spring the men busied themselves with planting seeds they had brought and some that the natives gave them. They had located their new home near a clearing of about four acres and were working at clearing away some shrubbery to enlarge on it. Donehogawa had found his family who had moved on to the west a few days journey thinking him dead. He moved them back east and located not far from the old world crew. He helped with the clearing and planting.

     It turned out that Donehogawa had a wife, a son and a daughter. The son, 11 years old was called Odacoda and the daughter 13, was called Faun. The children did as much work as the adults and they got along as if they were siblings and Donehogawa seemed more at home with the white men than with the natives. He put together a large teepee for his family. His wife, Winona also worked at planting and cultivating. She was initially very shy around the foreigners. She was very loving with her family and always helpful. She was just quiet. She always seemed to appear, however when help was needed.       

      In the heat of summer the sickness came to the area. Andrew told Donehogawa to keep his family away from the main village as many people could die as the small pox spreads fast from person to person. The natives were not prepared for what happened. They knew that the sickness came from over the sea. It was the white man’s disease. They also knew that it started with the Salem people. The great Sachem Massasoit led the southern tribe of Wampanoag people further to the west, trying to outrun the sickness, but it followed them. Donehogawa and his family felt safest staying with the group which proved to be a good choice.

     By the middle of the winter of 1627/28 it was over. Some of the tribe returned from the west and told of the great suffering and death. Rumors from the North Country were that the white people at Cape Ann and Salem had moved onto and occupied Wampanoag land. There were hard feelings all around. “First they brought the sickness now they take our land” was how they felt.

     In the south, among the group there was peace, but great sorrow. The tribe was cut in half. It was true that some of the whites had died but not in such great numbers as among the natives.

     As soon as spring weather was felt in the air Donehogawa decided that he would travel to Salem to asses the situation between whites and natives. He would find some native people nearby before deciding if it would be safe to enter the settlement.

     When he started on the trek he traveled very light taking only enough supplies for about four or five days. His brother Osceola went with him. They bypassed Plymouth without making contact and within one and a half days walking they were smoking a pipe with fellow Wampanoag in a small village west of Cape Ann. They found that the natives felt cheated by the whites but it would not be dangerous to travel into Salem especially with a group who were known there. So this is what they did. The group took along some furs to trade, which were taken to a trading post and with them purchased knives and hatchets. Donehogawa wanted some good tools for himself and family.

     Donehogawa kept his ears open for any kind of talk among the whites but most of the information he wanted was known to the natives. He wanted a feel for the tension that existed and he felt it. One bit of information he wanted to deliver quickly to his friend Brandon. The Earl of ________ was in Salem with his daughter Marie looking for his grandchildren who he claims had been stolen from him. He brought with him a dozen soldiers. Donehogawa instructed all of the natives that he ran into to please not tell them of the southern settlement. His people were loath to talk to new people anyway.



Chapter VIII Bad News and Quinnetukut


      When the travelers returned to the southern village Donehogawa went quickly to Brandon with the news of the Earl. Brandon had grave regrets that he could not see Marie. He secretly missed her but he knew that their quest was to retrieve the boys and return to England. He could not allow that to happen. That night the group sat around the newly constructed fireplace. They were all there including Brandon, John, Andrew, Jerry, and Billy, Donehogawa, his wife Winona and children Faun and Odacoda and his brother Osceola.

     The entire group was concerned about the appearance of the English Earl in Salem and they knew it would not be a long time before the new comers would find them. They had to make some decisions quickly. Should they run or stay and fight. Donehogawa spoke of a native village called Quinnetukut which means "beside the long tidal river" a full day’s walk to the west. It was near to a large river called by the same name. White men have been seen on the river but none have stayed. We will be welcome and safe there. It was decided that Brandon and his boys would all leave the next morning with Donehogawa and his family. They planned to carry as much food and supplies as they could. They would be slowed by the load they would carry but it would not matter if it took two or three days to get there. They would be safe once they left Cod. The foreigners were not good at tracking. Osceola would stay behind along with John and Andrew to see to the crops and watch the settlement. They would not be known and would be in no danger. So the group cooked up a supply of moose to take along and they all had a good feast after packing for the journey.

     Two days later Donehogawa was introducing his white friends to his friend Uncas who the son of the Mohegan Sachem (Chief) Owaneco in the village of Quinnetukut. Uncas and Donehogawa communicated in a language unknown to the newcomers, however they understood each other very well and Donehogawa was quick to translate. After explaining their purpose for being there Uncas showed them to teepees that would accommodate the families. They were fed and made comfortable. Uncas had thought his friend Donehogawa to be dead and was thrilled by the story of his rescue from the English who tried to enslave him. Uncas was very much impressed by the bravery involved in the voyage across the eastern sea. He was not aware of the great breadth of the ocean.  


Chapter IX The Earl and his Party


     Salem was a bustling community at this point in time but The Earl and his daughter Marie could not find suitable accommodations. They were stuck with an inn that housed many common trappers and sailors and even an occasional native was allowed to stay if accompanying a European. They were there for several weeks before learning of the place called Plymouth to the south and since no one in Salem had heard of Brandon and the kids they hired a ship to take their party down the coast. Marie knew of Brandon’s association with a John Alden and concluded that he had likely gone there. The name John Alden was known in Salem and at Cape Ann.

     Marie was losing interest in the Earl’s desires. Her father wanted to return the boys to England to be educated and brought up as royalty. Marie had realized that she still loved her commoner husband and no longer wanted to leave him out of the equation. But she had not discussed any of that with the Earl who thought Brandon to be nothing but rubbish to be cast aside. Sooner or later something would have to give. She missed Brandon terribly starting very soon after their separation and lf his departure from England had delayed a couple more days she might have stopped it but not in the way that the Earl had in mind.  

     So the Earl, his daughter Marie and the dozen soldiers embarked a week later for Plymouth after enduring a very uncomfortable stay at the inn. The ship did not present any better comfort. They rested on hard bunks during the trip which took several hours.

     When the boat was anchored in Plymouth harbor they launched the three dinghies and landed on a beach. They were met mainly by women since the men were busy in the fields. The Earl was quick to explain that his visit was peaceful in nature. As long as they had been met with no resistance they asked the soldiers to remain on the beach and some could return to the ship for needed supplies. Marie and her father were invited into the village called Plymouth. A group gathered in the meeting house.

     The new arrivals quickly learned that there was a new group of Europeans to the south a few hours by sea. It was called Cod. This came out before Pricilla Mullins Alden showed up. She had promised John’s friend Brandon that they would not disclose their whereabouts. She soon realized that she had arrived late. The word was out. When the Earl asked if the men from Cod had two teen aged boys, Pricilla did not lie when she answered that there were only adults with the group that visited Plymouth during the early spring.

     Marie and her dad were invited to stay at least overnight in order to get some rest. They quickly accepted. The soldiers were instructed to return to the ship and were informed that they would set sail on a few hour trip south in the morning. Their destination would be the armpit of the cape.

      A comfortable sleeping arrangement was quickly arranged in the back room of the meeting house and the women of Plymouth cooked a special meal that evening and a feast was had by all. Marie and her father were introduced to several foods they had never eaten such as corn, several kinds of squash and beans. Turkey with corn bread and succotash was the main course.

     Squanto was invited and got into a discussion with the Earl. This was the first time the Earl had ever talked directly to a Native American. Squanto had contacts among the Wampanoag as well as among the whites and he knew that he was not supposed to discuss the family from Cod with the Earl. He also knew that Brandon had taken his two sons to Quinnetukut along with another of his enemies Donehogawa. When he learned from the Earl that he was seeking the boys Squanto was delighted to divulge what he knew.

     The Earl was suspicious that his plans were meeting with disapproval among the folks at Plymouth. He had noticed Pricilla talking quietly with some of the others and they all seemed much more closed mouthed after that. So he did not tell them what he had found out. He rather offered to reward Squanto if he could find a guide to take him and his soldiers to Quinnetukut village. He found that Squanto could be bought very easily and soon had a promise of a guide who even spoke a little broken English.

     Later that night when Marie was alone with her father she was told of his plan. He would take his soldiers and go to Quinnetukut to the west and to bring back the boys. Marie was quick to tell him that she would not approve unless Brandon came also. The Earl balked at the idea and Marie suddenly burst into tears. She confessed to her father that she still loved her husband even though he was a commoner and she would not return to England with the boys unless Brandon went also. The Earl was ignorant as to the workings of female minds but agreed to do what he could to please his daughter. This was the first time she had spoken to him about her feelings for Brandon.

     The next morning the party got off to a late start as there was a lot of confusion about what supplies would be needed and could be carried on the trek. The Earl wanted more and the soldiers wanted less. After everything was decided they set out to the west. The Earl was not in condition for walking long distances and the going was slow even though he carried nothing except for his very bulky mid section.

     When evening came they made camp and the soldiers all helped setting up tents and cooking a substantial dinner. The Earl had some water heated for him and soaked his feet which were giving him great pain. The Indian guide, whose native name translated to Black Bear Fishing enjoyed the English cooking and ate heartily he especially liked the scones with honey.

     The following day the traveling was even slower as the Earl complained louder and louder about his sore feet. The soldiers gave him as much help as possible short of carrying him. However, by the third day he was managing a little better. The blisters on his feet were turning into calluses. On day four the party came upon a village. They could see the smoke from fires in a valley about two or three miles distant. They were not sure just what to do and were about to have a conference with Black Bear Fishing but he could not be found. The Earl sat down and summoned the sergeant whose name was Paul and they decided that their guide had gone ahead into the village to introduce the party. Their conclusion was that they should just wait until they heard back from him. 

     Night came and there was no sign of their guide so they made camp where they were. Morning came and still there was no sign of Black Bear and after another day and night went by they realized that they had been deserted by their guide. They concluded that it had not been a good idea to pay him in advance. He had simply left them on there own. 

     It was decided that the best approach to the current situation would be to march into the village and try to make friends. Perhaps they could find an English speaking guide. So the group packed up all of their camp equipment and did just that, they proceeded into the Indian village. As they slowly entered the Native American domain they were at first looked at with great curiosity. After the stunned natives stared for a while the new comers were approached by some of the men who were nearly naked and carrying no weapons. The Sergeant asked “does anyone hear understand English?”

     No answer came so he repeated louder than before “does anyone speak English? English, can anyone here understand it, English?”

     The natives just continued to stare, making no reply. Next they were approached by at least 50 native men with spears who quickly surrounded them and one by one took their guns. The soldiers had no time to respond with any force. They were just too outnumbered to do anything and had no time to load their rifles. Once they were disarmed and their weapons hidden away the leaders of the native tribe tried to communicate through sign language, but the white men were helpless to understand. They were taken to an open area within the village and eventually, and with considerable difficulty, were made to understand that they were being told to set up camp there. And that is what they did. But when they tried to explore the surrounding area they found that they were being guarded constantly and were being held prisoner. As long as they remained within the encampment they were unmolested, but were not allowed outside of that space. They were supplied with food and water but no other contact took place. They were not sure just what to do but hope that help would come.



Chapter X   Marie’s Independence


     As soon as the Earl had left Plymouth Marie broke down crying out loud in the presence of several of the pilgrim women. Pricilla Alden took pity on her and invited her to share her home while the adventurers were away. Marie, now alone with Mrs. Alden started to unload her feelings. “I am so sorry that I left my husband.” She admitted.

     “Why did you do it?” Pricilla queried.

     “It was all just because my father convinced me that the boys should have an education suitable to their royal positions. He convinced me to leave my husband, Brandon for the sake of my sons. But I have missed him ever since we parted but when I tried to go back, he had left for the new world.”

     “Why don’t you find Brandon yourself and tell him how you feel?”

     “I would love to do that.”

     “Your ship is equipped with competent sailors I presume.”

     “Oh Pricilla, do you really think I could find him?”

     “There are two men here in Plymouth today who will know how to find Cod. They are William Bradford, and Miles Standish. I will ask if they will help you, Mrs. Gulvin, I have just met you but I like you and I would surely accompany you if I had no children to care for.” 

     So that very day Marie and the two men from Plymouth set sail for Cod and were there by evening. There was no dock so they anchored off shore and took a small dinghy to shore while the ship and sailors waited on board. They were met by Osceola who was not proficient with English so he went to find Andrew who soon was on the scene greeting the new comers. Andrew had seen Marie in the past on at least one occasion and he had met the other two men so he invited them to the house. When all were made comfortable Miles mentioned that the home felt much like a boat. Andrew replied “that’s because we put it together using the craft that we crossed the sea in.”

     “That’s remarkable” William Bradford commented.

     “What brings you to Cod?” Andrew asked.

     “My father the Earl of ________ has gone looking for Brandon and the boys. He wants to take the boys back to England for schooling. He has gone west with a group of 12 soldiers.”

     “I don’t think the boys want to go,” Andrew said.

     Marie replied “I am having second thoughts and I will not allow him to separate the boys from their father. I made a big mistake when I initially agreed to it. I miss Brandon terribly and wish I could talk to him.”

     “What is your plan then, Marie, do you want to stay here?”

     Marie broke into tears again and said “I don’t know what I want to do. Right now I just want to talk to my husband and see what he wants me to do and I will likely do whatever he says.”

     “Well Mrs. Gulvin, it will take a couple days to get a message to Brandon. If you want to wait for a response you will be quite safe here. John, Osceola and I are working the field and the natives are very friendly and helpful as well. I can send a messenger to your husband at once. Is that what you want us to do?”

     “Yes,” she said between sobs.

     So it was decided that William Bradford, and Miles Standish would return immediately to Plymouth and await the return of the Earl and his crew since he is the one that hired the ship. And Marie would stay behind and await word from her husband. Osceola went to the nearby Wampanoag village to hire a runner to deliver the message to Brandon.


Chapter XI Brandon and Uncas


       Meanwhile in the Mohegan Village of Quinnetukut Uncas the son of Owaneco the great Sachem had become good friends with the white newcomers especially the teen aged boys Jerry and Billy. The boys were already starting to pick up some of the Mohegan language which impressed Uncas greatly and he could converse with them in the language of the Wampanoag. The boys had already been on hunting excursions with Uncas and joined in many of their games which were in some ways similar to games played in England. That is exactly what they were engaged in when a runner came into the village looking for Brandon Gulvin.

     Brandon was smoking tobacco in a pipe with Donehogawa when the runner arrived. The runner had a letter from Marie which he handed over to Brandon. The letter said:

           “I am at your house in Cod. The Earl and a party of 12 soldiers

           have been searching for you and the boys. If they haven’t found

           you as yet I am glad, because I would like to see you first.

           I am very distraught since we parted and I want a

           reconciliation. My father would like to take the boys back to

           England for Schooling. Even if he finds them and brings them

           back here I will not go to England without you. I would rather

           stay in this new world than to break our family apart again.

           So please come here and talk to me and I will do what ever you

           want. I miss you terribly and still love you and remain your

           devoted wife.             ---- Mrs. Brandon Gulvin (Marie)


     Brandon put down the letter and blew out some smoke through his mouth and nose as he had seen some natives do it. He gave Donehogawa a general idea of what the letter said. After a long pause Donehogawa made a rather laid back remark which translated to something like “the mind of the female is not known to the male of the species.”

     Brandon broke into a laugh and then Donehogawa started to laugh with him feeling quite pleased at having made a joke. Then Brad –which was a nickname given him by Donehogawa— said “I must go at once. I’d like to leave you in charge of my sons. You also have children and can appreciate their importance. I know that you’ll not allow the Earl and his friends to find them.”

     At that moment they were interrupted by the arrival of Uncas, Billy and Jerry, the youngsters. So Brandon explained that he was travelling back for a visit to Cod and that Donehogawa would look after the boys. “I must find a guide so that I can find the shortest way.”

     Uncas quickly answered with “I would like to guide you. I have made the trip many times and sometimes alone.”

     Without further discussion the two, one man and a boy, packed a couple small bags and set out with minimal supplies. After they had been gone for a few hours, Donehogawa’s closest friend among the Mohegans came to him with the news that an English Gentleman with 12 soldiers were being held captive in another Mohegan village up river. Donehogawa, realizing that they were talking about Marie’s father, the Earl, asked his friend to return to the northern village and inform them that they were holding a relative of his best friend, Brandon. “Please bring them no harm, treat them as guests but please do not let them go until hearing from their Wampanoag friends. And he explained that the son of their great Sachem, Uncas was on an errand at this very moment to find how to deal with the group.”

     As soon as the messenger agreed to make the delivery and was on his way Donehogawa located the two boys, Billy and Jerry Gulvin who he was charged with caring for and started them preparing for a trip. Within an hour they set out for Cod a few hours behind Brad and Uncas.

     As soon as Brandon arrived home and located his wife they entered into a long embrace. They both had prayed for this moment and prepared for it to happen. Osceola said he would go quickly to the teepee and summon his wife who was a good cook. They very soon had Bison steaks sizzling.

     Marie asked “how on earth did you manage to kill a Bison?”

     “Jerry shot it with an arrow.”

     “Brandon Gulvin, you toy with me.”

     “No Marie, you will not know your sons. They have learned many things. They speak two languages other than English. They can kill moose, caribou and bears as well as bison which the English around here call buffalo. They can travel hundreds of miles through the forests and not get lost. They can make fires using two sticks and they can sleep in the open and they do not fear the dark. And I forgot to introduce you to the boy’s best friend Uncas who is the son of the great Mohegan chief Owaneco”

     Marie wasn’t sure if all of that was true or not but she said “Well how do you do, Uncas, I think I should like to keep an eye on my children after this.”

     “Yes Marie, we must talk about that.”

     The evening meal was ready and Marie enjoyed the new tasty delights. Then she asked “my dear husband, when shall I see my sons?”

     Brandon answered quickly. “When you tell me that you will not take them from me you shall be reunited.”

     “We can all return to England together, Brandon.”

     “No Marie, my home is here in the new world. We are Americans, the boys and me.”

     “What about my father?”

     “We shall need to find him, I hope he is safe.”

     They sat on a log in the grass near the door of the home to digest the feast and talked of lighter issues for a while. Suddenly out of the twilight of the forest they saw three men approaching. Marie did not immediately recognize her sons. More than two years had gone by since she had seen them. They wore only a cloth covering their essentials and their hair had grown down to the middle of their backs. They were not the civilized boys she intended to educate. But as they drew closer she recognized their gate and the way they ran to greet her. She embraced them both. Her first impression was that they were happy.

     Donehogawa motioned for Brandon to join him for a quick walk in the forest and it was obviously very important so he left the family reunion and walked briskly along side of the native who he had not as yet taken time to introduce to his wife.

     As they approached the nearby glade Donehogawa exclaimed “The Mohegans have captured the Earl and his men. They are being held prisoners at a village north of Quinnetukut village. The Mohegan braves are getting restless with them and are not sure what to do with them. If you want them freed we must go at once. If we take Uncas along they will be compelled to do as we ask.”

     So Brandon quickly spoke to his wife explaining that her father was in grave danger as a captive of the Mohegans. “If I am to help him I must go with my native friend Donehogawa who I neglected to introduce. We owe him a debt for saving the life of our son Jerry during our ocean voyage. You will be safe here with Andrew and Johnny Mac. Osceola and his family are only yards away and the entire Wampanoag village is nearby and at your service.” So Brandon quickly embraced his wife and noted that Donehogawa had readied Uncas for travel. As they turned to go Brandon said “we will do our best to save your father.”


Chapter XII  Saving the Earl


     The party of three travelled rapidly to the northern Mohegan village and located the Village chief. Uncas was immediately recognized as he was next in line to become the Grand Sachem. Uncas explained that the Earl who they were holding captive was an important man in England and must return there immediately. The chief said that they had come just in time as his men were calling for an execution. White men have been coming up the river in boats trapping our fur bearing animals which are very precious to us. They come from a place known as Holland. Since your friends are from England we have no quarrel with them and will bring them to you. They are not intelligent enough to speak our language so we had no idea where they came from.

     Very shortly Brandon was face to face with the Earl. The soldiers thanked the small party of three who saved them. The Earl spoke “I have left my daughter Marie at Plymouth with a ship. We came to get the boys so that they can be properly schooled in England.”

     “My dear father in law, your Lordship, Your daughter and your grandsons are at my home in Cod where they will stay. The boys are being properly schooled in the ways of the new world. Your ship is at Plymouth. My friend Uncas, who is also from a royal family, is searching for a suitable guide to take you folks back to Plymouth where you will be reunited with your ship. You have my permission to visit your family members at my home for as long and as often as you want but if you attempt to take them away I will return you to the Mohegans, is that clear?”

      The Earl puffed a couple times before saying “very well how will I find your home?”

     “The folks at Plymouth know, but it is very easy, just go south to the armpit of the Cape.”

     Brandon waited until the soldiers were supplied for the trip and a guide was located then he and his friend Donehogawa with his family returned to Cod after leaving Uncas at the Mohegan village of Quinnetukut.

     Upon returning to his home he was surprised to see that a new cabin was being built nearby the boat house. John McDonald and Andrew were busy with carpentry tools. Brandon asked what was going on. John said with his Irish accent “you and your wife don’t want to live in a boat, especially one that has been rebuilt a few times and is crowded with wild men.”

     “OK you’re right, but I do plan to move west closer to the Quinnetukut River within a year or two. There is a lot of country on the other side.”

     Then Marie saw that he was home and came running to great her husband. “Your father is safe and on his way to Plymouth. I expect to see him here in a couple of days, I invited him.”

     “I love you Brandon.” She said.

     The next morning Marie went for an early morning walk and wandered into the clearing that held the teepees where Donehogawa and his family lived. As she walked past one of the teepees she was greeted by the voice of her son Billy. She looked inside and found that he was under the blankets where he had obviously spent the night.

     “I see you are camping out Billy, who is that with you?”

     “Mother, this is my good friend Faun.” Faun had just stuck her head out from under the covers. She was a very pretty Indian girl.

     Marie said nothing more but she hurried back to her husband and told him what she had seen.

     Brandon didn’t appear to be surprised. He just said “customs among the Americans are much different than in England.”

     “Well I think I should inform her parents.”

     “Marie you would greatly offend them if you complain.”

     “My dear husband, do you think they were…you know…?”

     “I have no idea Marie.”

     “I will try to get used to America.” Marie said with a red face but with a bit of a Mona Lisa grin. But my dear, could you get the boys to wear clothes when my father is here?”

     Brandon laughed out loud; “Yes I will speak to them, Marie. I am sure the Earl would faint if he saw much of what they have picked up from the natives.”

     Two days later around noon time the ship was sighted entering the harbor. The Earl and his men came ashore in small boats. John Alden, John Carver, Stephen Hopkins, and Edward Winslow had come along, with their wives, for a short visit. They wanted to see the settlement and were taking a short break from their farming.

     A huge feast was prepared by evening and since the weather was perfect, tables and chairs were brought outside. There was not enough furniture to go around but there were logs to sit on and most of the natives preferred the ground. Brandon did not give his friend Donehogawa too much beer and he told the story of him falling overboard during their ocean voyage.

     Before eating the Earl of _______ raised his cup in salute and said he wanted to make a toast. He said “I am having a wonderful time here at Cod. I have spent the afternoon with my daughter and two grandchildren. They are happy here and will be staying. I will be sailing in a couple of days and departing for England as soon as the next boat leaves Salem or Cape Ann settlement. I thank Donehogawa for saving the life of my grandson Jeffry and I thank my son in law for saving mine. I can see that my daughter and grandsons are happy here and I can see that it is a wonderful place but I have duties to fulfill in my mother land. God bless you all. Let’s eat.”




     There is not much more to be said except that the Gulvin family and their friends lived peaceful lives in the new world, America. They did eventually move west as civilization started showing its face. First they moved to the big river country but found it crowded. Then they moved on to Hartford and soon there after to the Hudson River and on up the Mohawk, and made friends with the Iroquois people with the help of Donehogawa who remained Brandon’s lifelong friend Marie gave Brandon two more children along the way. The children never got any formal schooling but they were wise beyond their years. They became leaders in the new colonies. The family remained as one and prospered together. 



--The End





If You Meet the Buddha

I don’t Know What to Tell You





     This story is obviously a spoof; slapstick comedy. It is a collection of life’s experiences gained from living among some very weird people. Many of these folks have passed on now and only exist in my memory which is far from perfect. It certainly is not meant to offend any one’s religion. Some of it is original and some is as remembered from out of the past. The history of my past takes us down roads to nowhere in particular and everywhere in general, over land, sea and air to the far corners of the mind.      ----Burr


Chapter I  The Release of Winston Whitman


     The Story begins as our hero Winston Whitman stood before the desk of Doctor Zimmerman. He was transfixed by a picture on the wall depicting a World War II scene with ships and airplanes in the heat of battle. The doctor was speaking while Winston only half listened. “Mr. Whitman, the board of directors here at Sunny Farm Sanitarium have decided that you are fully cured and you are now free to leave. Your uncle left you plenty of money so you will be able to find a nice place to live. You can pack your things and catch a bus downtown right in front of this building. So let me shake your hand.”




     “I said that you can go now.”


     “Oh OK.”


     “You seem preoccupied, Winston, What’s on your mind?”


     “I'm desperately trying to figure out why kamikaze pilots wore helmets.”


     Doctor Zimmerman just looked a bit puzzled by that but let it pass.


     “You have money now Mr. Whitman why not purchase some new clothes. I understand that Men’s Warehouse has pants half off.”


     Winston got real red in the face and replied “Doctor I have no interest in such things, especially with men. But I want you to know something I am sure about”


     “What is that Winston.”


     He replied “It’s just that a carpet is neither a car nor a pet, it is indeed a floor covering.”

     The doctor was starting to have second thoughts about Winston’s release but the decision was made so he just wished the patient the best of luck. “Do you have any questions before you leave Winston?”


     I have just one question Doctor, “can you cry under water?”


     The doctor just cleared his throat and said “good day Winston, do be careful. Just a minute, what is that in your pocket it looks like a gun?”


      “It is a chocolate revolver an orderly gave it to me. He said it would make a good gift for the President. He also told me that the President is a very busy man and I will probably have to run up to him real quick and hand it to him.”


     “No Winston, don’t do that!”


     Soon Winston found himself in the outside world alone. He had not known freedom for several years. He was hungry. He saw a hotdog cart on a nearby corner. It was manned be a Buddhist Monk wearing a long brown robe. Winston was so hungry for a hotdog that he would have paid triple the price, so he said to the monk "make me one with everything".


     The monk smiled benevolently and replied, “I see that you are familiar with our Buddhist way of thinking. That is certainly our goal, to be one with everything. Would you be kind enough to attend our meditation meeting tonight?”


     “Certainly,” Winston replied as the monk handed him a card with an address on it.


     “Our meeting is at 8 o’clock. And because you are a Buddhist I will give you a free hotdog. What do you want on it kind sir?”


     “Everything,” Winston answered.


     “A good choice,” The monk replied.


     Winston walked to a nearby park, sat on a bench, ate his hot with everything and fell asleep. Two hours later he was awakened by a policeman. “You can’t sleep in the park.”


     “It was difficult I agree,” Winston replied, “but once you get used to the noise of traffic you can fall to sleep. The benches are hard though.”


     “Are you getting wise with me?”


     “Oh thank you officer for reminding me, I have an appointment with a very wise Buddhist monk. I would have slept through it in not for you. I will not forget you when Christmas comes.”  After he said that Winston got up and left. The officer stood scratching his head. He wanted to club Winston but thought better of it. Since Mr. Whitman had acted so matter of fact he must be someone of importance.


Chapter II  First Teaching 


   Winston arrived after the Buddhist meeting was already underway. When he entered the Temple the Monk took him to the front of the room and introduced him as a sage and perhaps he will consent to answer some questions. 


     “Rather than answering questions I think I should ask some instead.”


     “Yes, Mr. Whitman, that is in the Buddhist tradition. A splendid method of teaching is by asking questions. Ask whatever comes to mind.”


     So Winston thought for a minute before asking “When someone asks you, "A penny for your thoughts," and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny?”


     In answer to the question the entire gathering of Buddhists chanted “um bazra um.”


    The monk said “They have already learned much from you. The chanting is a blessing to you for the wisdom.”


    Winston said “Oh, I shall go on then. I have many questions. When I erase a word with a pencil, where does it go?”


    “Um bazra um; we are learning at the speed of light.”


    “OK, so what's the speed of dark?”


    With that the entire group skipped around Winston waving their arms and chanting vigorously “um bazra um, um bazra um, um bazra um…”


     As soon as they stopped Winston asked “Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?”


     Again Winston was encircled and the vigorous chanting continued. After asking several more questions Winston said that he was tired. Just one more question they begged. The last question was “Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane?”

     He was begged to come back the following night. The entire group including the Head Monk himself exclaimed that they had never gained so much insight in one sitting. Before he left he was presented with a brown monk’s robe which he proudly put over his sanitarium clothes.


  Chapter  III  Karma



      Winston left the monks mainly because he was hungry. He had plenty of ready cash and more in a local bank which he had yet to locate. As he walked along the sidewalk being very careful not to step on cracks he almost missed a diner which he caught from his peripheral vision. He went inside and since the place was sparsely populated he seated himself at a corner table alone. When the cute waitress came to him he said “I'd like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream."


     The waitress replied, "I'm sorry, sir, but we're out of cream. How would you like coffee with no milk?"


     “I love coffee without milk” he replied shyly.


     When she returned with the coffee without milk she said, “I believe you are a Buddhist Monk judging by your attire. I am an atheist.”


     “I like to browse the news papers and I learned that many churches are exempt from paying taxes because they do not earn money. Is Atheism a non-prophet organization?”


     “I guess it is,” She replied. “There certainly is no Prophet.”


     Before leaving the diner Winston gave her the time and location of the Buddhist meeting and invited her to come. The last thing he learned there was that her name was Mona Lisa.


    He stopped at a MacDonald’s and took a bag of food to a secluded park bench where he slept after returning several times for more food. Just before going to sleep for the night he picked up a news paper and read the following “NEWS FLASH! - Alabama's worst air disaster occurred when a small two-seater Cessna 150 plane, piloted by two Auburn University students, crashed into a cemetery earlier today. Search and Rescue workers have recovered 300 bodies so far and expect the number to climb as digging continues into the evening. The pilot and copilot survived and are helping in the recovery efforts.”


     There was a letter to the editor about a scam. It went like this; “a 'heads up' warning for all men who may be regular Home Depot customers. Over the last month I became a victim of a clever scam while out shopping. Simply going out to get supplies has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don't be naive enough to think it couldn't happen to you or your friends. Here's how the scam works: Two very pretty 20-21 year-old girls come over to your car as you are packing your shopping into the trunk. They both start wiping your windshield with a rag and Windex. They are dressed in very skimpy T-shirts. It is impossible not to look.


     “When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say 'No' and instead ask you for a ride to another Home Depot. You agree and they get in the back seat.


     “On the way, they start running their hands through your hair. Then one of them climbs over into the front seat and starts crawling all over you, while the other one steals your wallet.


     “I had my wallet stolen April 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, 24th and 29th. Also May 1st, 4th, twice on the 8th, 16th, 23rd, 26th, 30th, three times last Saturday and very likely again this upcoming weekend.


     “So tell all your friends to be careful.


     “P.S. Wal-Mart has wallets on sale $2.99 each.”


     “Winston was growing tired of reading so he just skimmed through the rest of the paper looking at headlines only. The headlines seemed a little weird as he read:


     “Crack Found on Governor's Daughter - Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says - Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus? - Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over - Miners Refuse to Work after Death - Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant - Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures - Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges - Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge - New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group - Astronaut Takes Blame for gas  in Spacecraft - Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors - Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead - Things are more like they are today than they ever were before.”

     The next morning Winston got up refreshed and finished up his leftovers from the previous night. While walking along the sidewalk watching for cracks he noticed a girl in front of him with her jeans down low on her hips. He thought “oh, there’s a crack, I must be careful.”  She appealed to him so he carefully followed her into a building where several people were seated in comfortable chairs. He sat next to the girl he had followed. He had never asked a girl for a date. He never had opportunity in the home he was recently released from. He looked at her longingly and said “excuse me but I would like to have a date with you.”


     “Are you kidding? Do you know where we are? I’ve never been hit on by somebody in a V.D. clinic before.”


     “Oh, my dear lady, my late father was a Veterinary Doctor, I love animals. How about we go out some night?”


     At the sanitarium there had been a golf course and Winston was proficient at the game so when the lady said “I am a hooker.” He replied quickly.


     “My dear girl, that is easy to resolve. You just have to stop bending your wrists when you tee off.”


     Then he went into a story “one day I saw a guy accidentally overturn his golf cart.


     “Elizabeth, a very attractive and keen golfer, heard the noise and called out, are you okay, what's your name?"


     "’It’s Jack,’ he said ‘and I’m Okay thanks,’ he replied.


     "’Jack, forget your troubles. Come sit on my bench and rest a while, and I'll help you get the cart up later.’


     "’That's mighty nice of you,’ he answered, ‘but I don't think my wife will like it.’


     "’Oh, come on,’ Elizabeth insisted.


     “She was very pretty, very sexy and persuasive.... Jack was weak.


    "’Well okay,’ he finally agreed, and added, ‘but my wife won't like it.’


     “After a restorative brandy, and some creative putting lessons, he thanked his host. ‘I feel a lot better now, but I know my wife is going to be really upset.’


"’Don't be silly!’ Elizabeth said with a smile, ‘She won't know anything about all of this messing around. ‘By the way, where is she?’


     "’Oh she’s under the cart!’ Jack said....”


     The girl said that she liked the story.


     A door opened and the young lady was invited into the next room, but not before she was invited to attend the Buddhist meeting that evening.


     Winston, still dressed in his monk’s robe strolled around downtown, still watching for cracks. He took a short cut through a K-Mart parking lot and noticed a car with the door open and a woman’s legs dangling out. He strolled over for a closer look when the woman exclaimed “Quick, take my phone from the back seat and call 911, I am having a baby.”


     So Winston did as instructed and soon he was talking to the 911 operator. “Please come quickly, a baby is being born.”


    “Is this her first Child?” asked the operator.


    “No this is Mr. Whitman as in Walt Whitman.”


    “Is this the first?” the operator asked again.


    “My first is Winston, but what does it matter?”


    “We’re on our way;” came the reply sharply.

    With someone on the way our hero wandered off continuing to avoid cracks on the side walk. He watched a car drive by with a bumper sticker which read “Honk if you love peace and quiet.” He still had time to kill before the meeting so he went into a Museum. He was just in time to hear a lecture called “What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind.”

     As he sat there listening he couldn’t help wondering “how can anti-matter matter when it isn’t.” After looking over the Museum he was hungry and had an Arby’s sandwich. He then realized it was time to return to the Buddhist Temple.


Chapter IV  Second Teaching


     Upon arrival he met Mona Lisa and also the prostitute whose name was Lovey Overy. The Head Monk quickly got him to take the stage and deliver a lecture about anything that happened last evening. 


     “I would like to begin by stating something that I feel very strongly about and that is just this; if I had a mine shaft, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way.”


“Um bazra um.”


     “OK, as for last night, well first I have to tell you it was my first sex and this is exactly how it happened.”


     “I met this beautiful girl last night. She invited me back to her place and we had sex. Actually, it wasn't really the greatest sex ever, it was more like medium-great sex, and well, she didn't exactly invite me back to her place, I sort of followed her to a MacDonald's.”

     “To be factual, we didn't actually have sex per se, but we came really very close. You see we were fondling each other pretty intensely... well, actually, I was fondling her, she wasn't fondling me... well, really, I wasn't so much fondling per se, our bodies just got very close together. To be honest, I just sort of brushed into her while we were both in line. It was accidental, but it was great, really hot and sensual you know.”


     “Actually, to be specific, it wasn't really her that I brushed up against it was really the back of the chair she sat down in. Although, the chair was on the other side the room you see. And I was sort of leaning my own chair on the opposite wall. We were connecting and we did make eye contact several times. Well, not eye contact exactly. She sort of caught me staring at her, got that frightened look in her eyes, and got up and ran out of the place.”

     “I would have caught up with her too, had she not flagged down that Police car. I fail to see how all this constitutes ‘stalking’ though. I mean, come on give me a break here. But anyway, wow! What a night. What a night.”


     “I did see an interesting sign on the bulletin board at the police station. It said “This week begins our police campaign to run down jaywalkers.”


     “Just before I retired on my park bench I took a short walk in the woods when suddenly I tripped on something. It was a skull. I’ve never found a skull before so I decided to take it to the police station. Perhaps they would get over being angry with me. So I carried it there while trying as best I could to avoid cracks in the dark.”


     “The Chief of Police was very excited when he asked “what the hell is that?”


    “It’s a skull. I found it in a near by woods. When I found it the first thing I thought of was to bring it to the police. But then I got curious about it. I picked it up, and started wondering who this person was, and why he had deer horns.”


     “Get that damn thing out of here!” The chief shouted. I guess he was still angry about the stalking. I think he recognized me because of the robe. Take that thing back to the woods!”


     The Chief Monk interrupted about then saying “we don’t speak enough around here about sex and skulls but we certainly enjoyed your stories. Before you leave we all would like some more of your questions that work so well to stimulate meditation. Would you bless us with some?”


      “Certainly” Winston quickly answered. “I have been wondering about several things. Firstly, If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?”


      They all Chanted “um bazra um, um bazra um.”


     “Why is it, when a door is open it’s ajar, but when a jar is open, it’s not a door?”


      “Um bazra um.”


      “If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest have to drown as well?”


     “Um bazra um, Um bazra um,” came quickly from the monks.


     “Why do they sterilize needles for lethal injections?” was Winston’s next question.


     Again came the chanting “um bazra um, um bazra um.”


     “If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?”


     “Um bazra um.”

     “Is there another word for synonym? And where would I look up a synonym for the word ‘thesauruses?’”

     “Um bazra um.”

     “If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?”

     “Um bazra um.”

     “This will be the last question for today I am very tired, Winston said. If a mute kid swears does his mother wash his hands with soap?”

     Again came the chanting “um bazra um, um bazra um.”

     The head Monk got up then and asked, “You are a very wise sage Mr. Whitman, and do you know cures for disease?”

     “I have studied such things,” Winston replied. “For example, a sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree.”

     The night’s final event was a talk about nirvana or enlightenment by the Chief Monk after which Winston made one last comment “If you ever reach total enlightenment while you're drinking a root beer, I bet it makes root beer shoot out your nose.”

     “Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um,” came again quickly from the monks as they skipped around Winston waving their arms vigorously in the air.



Chapter V  Samsara


     After being encouraged and begged to come back again Winston left the Buddhist Temple followed by Mona Lisa and Lovey Overy.


     They went to the diner where Mona worked and they enjoyed a free meal. While vigorously chewing a hamburger Lovey admitted that she was homeless and had no place to sleep. Winston volunteered that he had found a park bench where the cops didn’t bother him. “Have you no money?” Lovey asked.


     “Oh yes I have lots of money.” Winston said pulling a large roll of bills from his pocket.


     “Well, why don’t you sleep in a hotel?”


     “I don’t know how to do that. I have never slept in a hotel.”


     Lovey was quick with a reply. “I know how to do it. I will help you.”

     After finishing their food the three of them went to the nearest hotel ‘The Red Neck Inn’. At the check in desk the manager asked of Winston "Got any ID?"

     Winston replied "ID Bout what?"

     Lovey took over and after explaining to the check in clerk that Winston just got out of jail she turned to Mr. Whitman and said “just pay the man.” After that they were shown to a room.

     They were very tired and all three crawled into bed soon after which Winston jumped up and said “The faucet is dripping in the sink.”

     Mona said “call the front desk and tell them.”

     Winston shouted at the top of his voice “‘FRONT DESK’.”

     “NO,” Lovey said while rubbing her ears, “call on the phone. Just pick it up and the desk clerk will answer.”

     So Winston picked up the phone and when he heard the voice answer he said "I've got a leak in my sink".

     The person at the front desk said "go ahead. This is ‘The Red Neck Inn’." Winston gets back into bed and Mona says “is there anything you want to do?”

     And Lovey says “Yes Mr. Whitman isn’t there something you would like to do?”

     “Yes there is something I want to do,” Winston answered, “it is something the nurses taught me to do” and he got out of bed and kneeled down saying “Now I lay me down to sleep…”

     Early in the morning Winston gets up and finds the girls still asleep. He is hungry so he goes down to the desk clerk to find out where to get breakfast. The clerk points to a doorway leading to a restaurant in the lobby. He is seated and places his order. He soon notices a gorgeous woman eating at the next table. He sat checking her out all through the meal, but lacked the nerve to go talk to her. Suddenly she sneezed and her glass eye came out of her socket flying towards him. Winston reflexively grabbed and caught it out of the air.”

     "Oh my goodness, I am so sorry,” the woman said, as she popped her eye back in place. “Let me buy your breakfast to make it up to you."

     They enjoyed a wonderful meal together. Then Winston asked “do you buy breakfast for every man you meet.”


     "No,” she replied.... "You just happened to catch my eye."


     It was about then that Mona and Lovey arrived and Winston introduced them to his new friend whose name he learned was Gretchen. He had another breakfast with the three women and invited Gretchen to join them in the evening at the Buddhist Center and she accepted.


     Lovey explained that she had nothing to wear to the temple so Winston gave her some money to shop and the three women went for a shopping spree agreeing to meet at the temple later. They asked Winston what size shirt he wore and he answered “extra medium”.


     Then Winston took a walk in the park. It wasn’t long before he came across a group of derelicts. He stopped to talk with them but they talked him into buying a bottle of vodka first which he gladly did. Then he sat down to talk.

     The men kind of took turns talking and drinking. The first drunk said “I’ve seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it. But I try to always have a ‘bottle in front of me’.”

     “I had a frontal lobotomy,” Winston replied and he was puzzled by the laughter but assumed he had made a joke.

     Man 2 said “A woman drove me to drink and I didn't even have the decency to thank her.” More laughter followed.

     "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. They wake up in the morning and that's the best they're going to feel all day," another added and more laughter followed.

      "I always keep brandy handy in case I see a snake, which I also keep handy," said another.    

      “Why do you need a driver's license to buy liquor when you can't drink and drive?”

     “Are any of you guys lawyers?” someone asked.

     Then Winston said. “If you laid all of the lawyers in the world, end to end, on the equator ---- It would be a good idea to just leave them there. And by the way I tried sniffing Coke once, but the ice cubes got stuck in my nose.” Winston added and got much laughter which puzzled him again.

     Another guy added "I don't like people who take drugs... Customs men for example." Louder laughter followed that.

     “A skeleton walks into a bar – and said I’ll have a pint of beer and a mop please."

      “24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case; Coincidence?”

      "I know I'm drinking myself to a slow death, but then I'm in no hurry."

     "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."  

     Then Winston spoke up adding “once, I wept for I had no shoes. Then I came upon a man who had no feet. So I took his shoes. I mean, it's not like he really needed them, right?”

     After enjoying the conversation for a time Winston grew tired of it and since he had more time to kill he wandered down the sidewalk watching for cracks when he saw a line of people moving slowly into a building which was adorned with flashing lights. He asked a bystander what it was and was told it was a movie theatre. He had seen movies at the home and so he bought a ticket and went inside. He bought popcorn and sat down just as ‘Sherlock Holmes’ was starting.


     Winston’s favorite scene was when Sherlock and Dr Watson had gone on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine they lay down for the night, and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see."

      Watson replied, "I see millions and millions of stars."

     "What does that tell you?"

     Watson pondered for a minute. "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo.”


     “Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?"

     Holmes was silent for a minute then spoke. "Watson, you are an idiot. Some bastard has stolen our tent."


Chapter VI   Third Teaching


     After leaving the theatre Mr. Whitman proceeded to the Buddhist Monastery. His three girls were already there sitting in the front row. Winston took center stage and was introduced by the Chief Monk, although he needed no introduction by this time. The monk said “please Mr. Whitman, your holiness start with a few words of wisdom.”


     So Winston began “listen my good friends, if you should ever catch on fire, try to avoid seeing yourself in the mirror, because I bet that's what REALLY throws you into a panic.


     “I know some of you will want to go into business some day so I want to tell you about a friend of mine who makes booby traps that look just like prayer mats. Prophets are going through the roof.”

     “Um bazra um, um bazra um, um bazra um.”

     “If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let them go,
because, man, they're gone.”

     Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time."  

      The Head Monk rose again and after a chorus of, um bazra um, um bazra um, he spoke “if you please your holiness, give us some questions to ponder.”

     So Winston continued with “If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?”

     “Do you know the indestructible material they make those black boxes out of? Why not make the whole plane out of it?”

     “Um bazra um, um bazra um, um bazra um.”

     “Why does Hawaii have interstate highways?”

     “Why do you drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?”

     “Um bazra um, um bazra um, um bazra um.”

     “Why do they report power outages on TV?”

     “If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?”

     “If the cops arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?”

     “Um bazra um, um bazra um, um bazra um.”

     “Who discovered how to get milk from cows and what was he
doing in the first place?”

     “Um bazra um, um bazra um, um bazra um.”

     “Why does sour cream have a sell-by date?”

     “If a brick lands on your head, can you claim a lump sum
from your insurance company?”

     Winston was growing tired and started to take a final bow.

     The Head Monk took the spotlight again and said. “Winston the most holy of men we are having a circus tomorrow in the park, you are invited. There will be clowns.”

     Winston answered “I have to confess that I have a thing about clowns. To me, clowns aren't funny. In fact, they're kind of scary. I've often wondered just where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus and a clown killed my dad.”

     “I’m very sorry your holiness” said the chief.

     “Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um,” came again quickly from the monks as they skipped around Winston waving their arms vigorously in the air.


Chapter VII   Samsara II


  That night Winston’s bed at the hotel was more crowded as there were now three girls. They were all giggling so much that he went out for a walk even though it was too dark to see the cracks. He liked to read the signs in front of churches. He found one that was very interesting.

     It said: Religions Of The World:
Taoism: Shit Happens.
Hare Krishna: Shit Happens Rama Rama Ding Ding.
Hinduism: This Shit Happened Before.
Islam: If Shit Happens, Take A Hostage!
Zen: What Is The Sound Of Shit Happening?
Buddhism: When Shit Happens, Is It Really Shit?
7th Day Adventists: Shit Happens On Saturdays.
Protestantism: Shit Won't Happen, If I Worked Harder.
Catholicism: If Shit Happens, I Deserve It.
Jehovah's Witness: Knock, Knock, "Shit Happens".
Judaism: Why Does This Shit always Happen to Me?
Rastafarianism: Let's Smoke This Shit.
Cyberism: If Shit Happens: http://www.....

     He sat down on a park bench and thought back to his childhood. “I remember how my great-uncle Jerry would sit on the porch and whittle
all day long. Once he whittled me a toy boat out of a larger toy boat
I had. It was almost as good as the first one, except now it had
bumpy whittle marks all over it. And no paint, because he had whittled
off the paint.”

     He also remembered having once written a song. He thought out loud “I can't read music. Every time I hear a new song on the radio, I think, -Hey, maybe I wrote that.”

     As he started walking back to the Red Neck Inn he met a man that he had known in the Sunny Farm Sanitarium. “Arthur Ritis,” he cried out “how are you.”

     “Terrible,” Arthur said, “I want to go back to the home.”

     “What happened?”

     “Well I got a new home and everything was great until I installed a skylight in the ceiling.”

     Winston queried back “are you not happy with it?”

     “I’ve got no problem with it but the people who live above me
are furious. And by the way do you recall the midget clairvoyant that lived at the home, well he escaped from the asylum. I heard on the news that there is a small medium at large.”

     “Are you going back to the home now?”

     “It is too late to go tonight and I can’t go back to my apartment, I don’t know what to do.”

     “Come with me to my hotel and you can go to the Temple with us tomorrow. It will be a little crowded in my room there are three women in my bed.”

     “Don’t toy with me Winston, I have troubles enough.”

     So Winston said no more he just took Arthur Ritis to his room. When they entered they could hear giggling. The girls were still having some kind of a party. Arthur said “we have the wrong room Winny.”

     “No it is alright. These are my friends. Maybe you will have to sleep at the foot of the bed. I like to get between the girls because I get cold easily. Once they quiet down we can get some sleep.”

     “Who is your new friend?” Lovey asked.

     “This is Mr. Ritis. We used to live together. He is like family. He calls me Winny.” So they eventually quieted down and all went to sleep.

     The next night Winston treated his ever growing family to a fine meal and took them to the Temple. As soon as he arrived he was quickly ushered to the Altar and begged to speak some words of wisdom.


Chapter VIII   The Fouth Teaching


    “I want to speak for a minute about physical fitness. A healthy body makes for a strong mind. You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She's 97 today but we don't know where the hell she is.”

     “I can just remember my mother before she put me in the home that I loved. I loved the home and my friend Arthur wants to go back. I can’t blame him. My mother used to tell me fairy tales. I loved this one. It is about a fairy princess who dreamed of becoming a ballerina. One day, she read an announcement that the Royal Ballet would audition dancers. The auditions were in a nearby town. So, on the morning of the auditions, she tied 100 white pigeons to her chariot. The director noticed her dramatic entrance. He immediately told her to go home.”

     "Why?" cried the princess.

     "We have enough pigeon-towed dancers already."

     “To me, boxing is much like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography and the dancers hit each other.”

     “And she always reminded me that all things being equal, fat people use more soap.”

     “My mother was very wise also.”

     “Before I begin with the questions I want to tell you a story I learned about a Veterinarian. I went to the Vets office after meeting my good friend Lovey at a V.D. clinic. I got interested in Veterinary Doctors. Anyway while I was at the Vets office a girl came in with her little doggy and said that it appears to be dead.”

     “The vet puts the dog on the examination table looks at it. He
lifts a leg and it is limp and falls to the table. He lifts another
and it too falls to the table. Checks the head and gets no response.
He then informs the girl that there is only one way to tell for sure
and he goes and takes a cat from a cage.
Rubs the cat on the dogs belly.........NO RESPONSE
Rubs the cat on the dogs back....... NO RESPONSE
Rubs the cat all over him and .............. NO RESPONSE

     “He then announces that the dog is dead and they go to the outer

     “He tells the girl that the bill comes to $450! She is astonished at the amount and asks "Why so much?"

     “The Vet says the office call is $50.”

     She asks “What is the other $400 for?"

     HE answers: “For the CAT SCAN.................................”

     “I hope if dogs ever take over the world and they choose a king, they don't just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas.”

     “Lastly, if you are looking for the self help section at the downtown library, don’t ask. The librarian told me flat out that if she told me it would defeat the purpose.”

     The Head Monk stepped forward and bowed before saying, “Your holiness we would like some questions to ponder. They give us so much to think about during our daily reflective meditations.”

    So Winston Whitman cleared his throat and began with this, “Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?”

     “Is it true that cannibals won't eat clowns because they taste funny?”

     “What was the best thing BEFORE sliced bread?”

     “Um bazra um.” “Um bazra um.” “Um bazra um.”

     “Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?”

     “Why do they call it an asteroid when it's outside the hemisphere, but call it a hemorrhoid when it's in your butt? Think about it.”

     “How is it possible to have a civil war?”

     “Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um.”

     “I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.”

     “Should crematoriums give discounts for burn victims?”

     “What happens if you get scared half to death twice?”

     “Do you need a gun with a silencer if you are going to shoot a mime?”

     “Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um.”

      “If a 7-11 is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, why are there locks on the doors?”

     “If buttered toast always lands butter side down and a cat always lands on its feet, what would happen if you tied a piece of buttered toast to the back of a cat and dropped it?”

      Winston paused and said that he was tired now. “The profundity is very strenuous” he exclaimed.”

     “Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um,” came again quickly from the monks as they skipped around Winston waving their arms vigorously in the air. “One more story before you go” they exclaimed.


      “OK” Winston said “I shall tell you about the time I was in prison. I was sent there by mistake but I learned from it.”

     “There was a stockbroker who was nervous about being in prison because his cellmate looked like a real thug; ‘Don't worry,’ the gruff looking fellow said, ‘I'm in here for a white collar crime too.’"

     "Well, that's a relief," sighed the stockbroker. "I was sent to prison for fraud and insider trading."

     "Oh nothing fancy like that for me," grinned the convict. "I just murdered a couple of priests."

     “And Mike Hunt was sentenced to prison for many years. During his stay, he got along well with the guards and all his fellow inmates.”

     “The warden saw that deep down, Mike was a good person and made arrangements for Mike to learn a trade while doing his time. After three years, Mike was recognized as one of the best carpenters in the local area. Often he would be given a weekend pass to do odd jobs for the citizens of the community, and he always reported back to prison before Sunday night was over.”

     “The warden was thinking of remodeling his kitchen and in fact had done much of the work himself. But he lacked the skills to build a set of kitchen cupboards and a large countertop which he had promised his wife. So he called Mike into his office and asked him to complete the job for him. But, alas, Mike refused. He told the warden, "Gosh, I'd really like to help you but ...

     “... counter fitting is what got me into prison in the first place".

          “Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um,” came again quickly from the monks as they skipped around Winston waving their arms vigorously in the air.


Chapter IX   Day Dreams and Night Dreams


   Winston went back to his hotel room with the other 4 members of his new family. Lovey wanted to go out so Winston went along to a Seafood Disco, where they were dancing so lively, that Winny pulled a mussel. But he had lots of fun. He told Miss Overy that he had never had good luck getting dates. “A girl phoned me once and said. ‘Come on over there's nobody home.’ I went over. Nobody was home!”

     When they got back to the Hotel Arthur was sleeping between Mona and Gretchen. They looked so comfortable that Winston and Lovey curled up on the floor. Winston couldn’t stop thinking about his friend Dr. Zimmerman who was dyslexic. He had a sign on his desk that said “Dyslexics of the world untie.”

     He once sent a patient to the grocery store to buy God food.

    He once told his therapy group that his father died in a Nazi prison camp which was true but they later found out that he had fallen from a guard tower.

     Winston loved nice little sayings which the doctor had on plaques on the office walls. One said “Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.”

     Another said “Diplomacy is saying ‘nice doggy’ until you find a rock.”

     There were two others. One said something like “A day without sun shine is like, night.” And the other “Broken promises don't upset me. I just think, why did they believe me?”

     Oh yes I remember another that said “Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else."

     The only plaque that I ever had on my wall was truthful, he thought to himself, when it said “When I die I want to die peacefully in my sleep just like my Grandfather. Not yelling and screaming like his passengers.”

     The good doctor had once told Winston that he started out working in a fire hydrant factory but you couldn't park anywhere near the place.

     His neighbor has a circular driveway. He can't get out.

     Winston’s mind wandered to his younger self and he said to himself “once when I was lost… I saw a policeman and asked him to help me find my parents. I said to him. ‘Do you think we'll ever find them?’ He said. ’I don't know kid. There are so many places they can hide.’"

     He finally drifted off to sleep there on the floor with his head on Lovey’s shoulder. His dreams were usually bazaar but this night they were unbelievable. His first dream was about himself sitting in a bar.

     A guy walks into the bar and sits down. He starts dialing numbers like a telephone on his hand and talking into his hand. The bartender walks over and tells him that this is a very tough neighborhood and he doesn't need any trouble here. The guy says, "You don't understand, I'm very hi-tech. I had a phone installed in my hand because I was tired of carrying the cellular." The bartender says, "Prove it." The guy dials up a number and hands his hand to the bartender. The bartender talks into the hand and carries on a conversation. "That's incredible", says the bartender "I would have never believed it!" "Yeah", said the guy, "I'm really very hi-tech. I can keep in touch with my broker, my wife, you name it! By the way, where is the men's room?"

     The bartender directs him to the men's room. The guy goes in and doesn't come out for the longest time. Fearing the worst given the tough neighborhood, Winston, having heard the entire dialog between the hi-tech guy and the bartender goes into the men's room. The guy is there and is spread-eagle on the wall. His pants are pulled down and he has a roll of toilet paper up his butt. "Oh my god!" said Winston. "Did they rob you? How much did they get?" The guy turns and says, "No, no, I'm just waiting for a fax."

     The next dream was about an Asian man who walked into the currency exchange in New York with 2000 Japanese yen and walked out with $72. The following week, he walked in with 2000 yen, and was handed $66. He asked the teller why he got less money than the previous week. The teller said, "Fluctuations." The Asian man stormed out, and just before slamming the door, turned around and shouted, "Fluc you Amelicans, too!"

      His last dream went like this. “The tired and thirsty prospector threw himself down at the edge of the watering hole and started to drink. But then he looked around and saw skulls and bones everywhere. ‘Uh-oh,’ he thought. ‘This watering hole is reserved for skeletons.’"

     The next day Winston was tired from not sleeping well. He walked the streets for a while and even walked past the sanitarium thinking he might see the good doctor. He didn’t see him however.


Chapter  X   The Final Teaching


     That night it was back to the Buddhist Center with his family who admitted that they didn’t understand his Buddhist lectures but loved watching him perform. But something special happened. There in the audience sat Dr. Zimmerman. Winston said hello and asked how the doctor had found him. The Dr. answered that Winston was in all of the news papers. He was called ‘The Next Dali Lama’.

     When he took the stage he said that he was going to wrap up some loose ends and then he would retire from the pulpit and return to his old home which many took to mean Tibet.

     If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them
down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." Winston was getting started.

     “For mad scientists who keep brains in jars, here's a tip: why not add a slice of lemon to each jar, for freshness?

     “You can't tell which way the train went by looking at the track.

      Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk, my first
instinct is to laugh. But then I think what if I was an ant and she
fell on me. Then it wouldn't seem quite so funny.”

     “Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um.”

    “Probably the earliest fly swatters were nothing more than some sort of striking surface attached to the end of a long stick.”

     “Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um.”

     “I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.”

     “I bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.”

     “I met the surgeon general. He offered me a cigarette!”

     “Whenever I start getting sad about where I am in my life, I think about the last words of my favorite uncle: ‘A truck!’"

     “I hope some animal never bores a hole in my head and lays its eggs in my brain, because later you might think you're having a good idea but it's just eggs hatching.”

     “If your friend is already dead, and being eaten by vultures, I think it's okay to feed some bits of your friend to one of the vultures, to teach him to do some tricks; But only if you're serious about adopting the vulture.”

      “I have a hobby. I have the world's largest collection of sea shells.
I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world. Maybe you've seen
some of it.”

     “It doesn't matter what temperature the room is; it's always

     “Why don't blind people skydive? I guess because it scares the hell out of the dog.”

     “What do you call a Pilipino contortionist? I guess it would be ‘A Manila Folder’”

     “Um bazra Um, Um bazra Um, Um bazra Um.”

     “I tried using the computer at the library and got a message saying, ERROR: Keyboard Not Found! Press ENTER to continue.”

     “Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!”

     “Someday we'll look back on all this and plow into a parked car.”

     "3 kinds of people: those who can count & those who can't."

     “Um bazra um, Um bazra um, Um bazra um,” came again quickly from the monks as they skipped around Winston waving their arms vigorously in the air while chanting.



Chapter XI   Going Home


  Winston came down from center stage just in time to bump into Dr. Zimmerman who asked “are you ready to go Mr. Whitman?”


     “Yes Doctor I am very tired, let’s go home.” He saw Arthur saying goodbye to the girls. Winston had enough of them and waited in the shadows for Arthur to come out. Arthur seemed to understand them better. Winston had no idea what they were talking and giggling about most of the time.


     “By the way Doctor can we make a quick stop at the Super Duper Grocery on the way I need to return this bag of chicken parts?”


     “What is wrong with them Winston?”


     “I put them together and it wouldn’t fly.”


     The Doctor said “oh.”


     “Dr. Zimmerman” he said “I want to thank you for getting me over my inferiority complex.”


     The doctor thought for a minute before asking “how did I do that?”


     Winston answered “you told me that I was inferior.”     


     On the way back to the Sanitarium Winston sat and wondered, as the light went from red to green and to yellow then red again, "is that all there is is yelling and honking?"



The End