1. October 1702-1

2112 Words

CHAPTER 1

October 1702

It was well past sunrise before there was any movement seen inside the village of Northwood, closest to Metacom's resurrection. They had listened to the screaming all night long and it was almost 9 a.m. before anyone dared to go look in the woods by the old Indian village of Sowams. What 15-year-old Ebenezer White found sent him running back to his mother, screaming at the top of his lungs about an Indian m******e of the army. When two elders arrived, they found the three soldiers' heads on stakes: their eyes wide open and focused on a single spot and their mouths in twisted agonized screams.

That spot was the burial pyre of Canonchets. But as for the bodies of Sergeant Jonathan Goodman, Corporal Richard Stuart and Corporal David Mill, all late of the Queen's Light Horse: there was no trace. The grove itself was a bright reddish pink. When they had drunk their fill of the slaughter and had begun to ease their way out of the grove, from out of a clear blue sky came a bolt of lightning striking and setting a blue fire to Canonchets pyre. When other villagers found the elders wandering down by the bay, they were both quite mad, babbling about the heads and blue fire and the voices of a million Indians in a great victory cry. In less than a week they were both dead.

Captain Sir Charles Campbell finished reading the accounts of the Goodman m******e as it was being called and turned to his Lieutenant Sir James Wilson and asked his opinion on the matter, "What do you think of this, Sir James?"

"Well, Sir Charles, I've seen some pretty bad sights in the Indian Wars along the great Inland Sea. I rather doubt that there was anything supernatural involved. What with the recent madness at Salem, I suppose that we, or should I say I, should look into these matters, sir?"

"Very good, Sir James. I like a volunteer," said Captain Campbell with a grin. Then turning deadly serious, he said, "Yes, take your man and see to it at once. Find out who did this and bring them to justice. The crown cannot afford to be seen as uninterested in colonial matters. As well as three members from the Queens Light Horse were brutally murdered; I will not tolerate such outrageous behavior against the Crown! Bring these men to me, Sir James."

"I'll pack and leave at once, Sir Charles. Have no fear, sir. I'll hunt them down and bring them back to you. Sounds like a good sport, hunting the most dangerous game, just like on the fields of Eton eh, Sir Charles?"

The captain had been a class ahead of the Lieutenant at Eton. Both the sons of Earls, were on the path of rapid promotion as the best and the brightest. Posted to the colonies to seek their fortune in a land of boundless opportunities.

Sir Charles, at the age of 22, found himself fourth in command of her Majesty's troops in New England. In real command, General Hastings or Colonel White seldom left their houses in Manhattan. Or Colonel York in Boston, who was rumored to be suffering some brain fever, leaving all but two companies of the forces in Plymouth under Charles' command. The crown had begun cracking down on the colonies some 25 years before when the Puritans had tried a power play and caused all the trouble with the Indians in what they were now calling the "Red Kings Rebellion." Then Charles Stuart had let the Indians teach the Puritans a few lessons before stepping in to seize the colonies.

Lieutenant Sir James Wilson, at the age of 21, had just returned from the wilderness. He had spent the last two years mapping in upstate New York and into the Ohio territory. After making his report to the Colonel and the Queen's representative, he was reassigned to Plymouth. He had just settled into the comforts of town when he was called back to duty.

"One other thing Sir James. Colonel White sends word that the Crown has turned its eye your way and a Captaincy is being made ready for you when you return. So, look sharp, Sir James, and return quickly with some answers."

"Well, at least that's some good news, Sir Charles. I'll have the cutthroats responsible on your doorstep within a fortnight. I'll take the new post road to Providence. It's but a day’s ride from there to Northwood. We'll soon put her majesty's fears to rest," said James as he poured a large glass of wine for the captain and himself.

As he handed a glass to Sir Charles, he said, "Here's to her Majesty good Queen Anne, long may she reign and far away from here!"

"Here, here, Sir James, you are wicked! Here's to your health," said Sir Charles!

They drank a few bottles of toasts before Sir James returned to his quarters. First thing bright and early Sir James was awakened by his servant Patsy who had stayed up all night packing the lieutenant’s wardrobe, packing the horses, pouring Sir James' bath, breakfast and a thousand and one other things while the lieutenant slept off the wine. So, by the time he had dressed Sir James, he was dead tired and more than a little hungry. Thinking to stop at the cook’s tent for something to eat and then to sleep in the horse barn, he was much surprised to learn that he was due to ride hard all day behind Sir James halfway to Providence. No time to sleep or eat until sunset. Oh, what a pleasure it is to serve you, Sir James!

It was a full two hours ride out of Plymouth before they passed the last farmstead and entered the wilderness, a wilderness rapidly shrinking as the steady stream of immigrants, indentured servants, prisoners and the like arrived in the colonies fast growing ports. Commerce along the seaboard from Maine to the Carolinas was booming with manufactured goods, people and now black slaves coming from Europe. The colonies shipping sugar, cotton, tobacco, and Indian slaves to Europe and to the Caribbean isles.

With the French in New Orleans and Montreal and the Spanish in Florida and their new town of St. Louis, the English were rapidly being surrounded by Europe's other powerful colonial empires. There had been five years of peace between France and England since the end of the "Nine Years War" of 1689 - 1697. This occurred when Louis the XIV of France tried to reseat Catholic James II on the English throne against Protestant Mary Stuart and her husband William of Orange. Now Louis had gone to Spain as an ally in what they were now calling "The War of Spanish Succession." When would it end?

On they rode in silence as befitted a Lord and his vassal until that vassal fell asleep and then fell off of his horse and dislocated his shoulder.

"I say, Patsy, we'll never make the Inn at this rate, do remount and let’s be off," said Sir James as he turned his horse to ride away but then looked Patsy's way again and said:

"Oh, I see, bad luck there, Patsy. You seemed to dislocate your shoulder, old boy."

Getting down from his horse and approaching Patsy from the rear, Sir James grabbed the near feinting Patsy. With a brisk twist of his shoulders, he put the shoulder back in place, causing Patsy to scream very loud before feinting. Patsy awoke several hours later to find himself tied over his horse. He thought to say something but decided to go back to sleep and didn't wake up until they approached the Inn.

"I see you're awake, Patsy," said Sir James. "As soon as we arrive, see to the horses and then come and attend to me."

"Yes, milord, thank you, milord. Oh, and could you untie me, your grace?"

The Inn had a wall around it, having been built during the Indian wars and looked more like a fortress than a country inn. Still, to Sir James, its thick walls and feather beds were very welcome in the wilderness; even if this wilderness was fast becoming hard to find this close to the coast, it was hardly the Great Inland Seas.

Next to the Inn was a barn, and behind the barn were the lodges of about thirty or so "Praying Indians." Originally, they were allowed to join the white settlers in a number of towns.

They were allowed to keep their farms or orchards for selling out their people to the Puritans and then the English. That time and war was beginning to fade from memory along with the white man’s promises. Their ancestral homeland was either stolen or sold for a pittance. Why they hadn't been sold off into slavery was a thought that crossed Sir James' mind as he handed his reins to the stable boy that appeared from nowhere and dismounted. He untied his man and turned to enter the building while Patsy collapsed on the ground, his legs still being "asleep." He was soon on shaky legs and following the boy into the barn.

Sir James entered the inn into the common area, where he stood by the fireplace and absorbed some heat on his backside. Two others, trappers by the looks of them, were sitting at one of two tables drinking beer out of pewter mugs. After a minute a comely looking girl arrived to welcome Sir James, saying her master was away but should be back soon and could she show Sir James to his room or would he like something to eat and drink first? He ordered a bird and bottle and settled into a chair at the other table when she returned with his bottle.

"I say lass," said Sir James, as he reached out and grabbed her arm. "This wine is French. That could be thought treason in some quarters."

"I'm sorry, sir, my master bought two cases from a merchant in Providence."

"I'm only jesting girl; come sit with me and have a glass. Here, what's thy name, my pretty?

"Barbara, my good Captain, Barbara Allen indentured servant to Mr. Herbert Appleby until the 12th of May next year."

"Well, Barbara Allen, I'm only a Lieutenant, although I shall soon come into a Captaincy. What does one do to pass the time in this wilderness?"

"I practice my letters and my reading. I've already read seven books. I hope to be a personal maid to a fine Lady in Boston or New York."

"That is a lofty goal, but I feel that you may achieve it with the right guidance," said Sir James as he reached for the wine bottle but caressed a bulging breast instead.

"Oh, your birds ready, my Lord," said Barbara as she untangled herself from the Lieutenant’s clutches. Causing the trappers who had been watching to turn their heads and grin.

At this time the stable boy entered with Patsy in tow carrying a large bag. They walked past on the way to the Lieutenant's room as Barbara returned carrying the bird, a small turkey that she sat in front of the Lieutenant.

"Why this is a foul fowl, have thee no hens or ducks or a fat goose mayhaps, asked the Lieutenant?"

"Sorry, my Lord, but this is all we have tonight. There is nothing wrong with this bird," said Barbara as she took a knife and sliced deep into the Turkey's breast. After plucking forth a slice of the white meat, she laid it with yams and carrots and a little loaf of bread in front of Sir James.

"If thou sayest so fair maiden, I will at least try some for thy sake. But rather, I take thee upon my tongue, dear Barbara than this fowl!"

"Why speaks thee this way, my Lord?"

"Know you not maiden?"

"Tis true, my Lord, that a maiden I am and will remain until my marriage day!"

"Then sit awhile anyway and help me pass the time. I leave at the sun first gleaming as I must be away to bloody business in Northwood, yet a day’s ride from Providence town. Fetch me another bottle of this traitor's blood, as it is a fitting companion to this foul fowl. And also fetch my servant hence for I must feed him as well."

Off went the girl as the Lieutenant turned his attention back to the turkey breast.

She soon returned with both the bottle and Patsy in tow.

"Come sit and gnaw a bone with me, Patsy."

"Thank thee, Lord."

Sir James reached forward and, grabbing the turkey, ripped a leg off and tossed it to Patsy, who all but inhaled it.

"When you have eaten your fill, Patsy, go and fetch my journal hither, as I've a mind to record today's events."`

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