Editor's Note: This is an ongoing series which runs each Thursday morning titled the Richland Chronicles Volume 2, by author Paul Lintern. It is set in the summer of 1831 and tells the story of Richland County through the eyes of young people. This is the second in a three-book trilogy. Volume 1 was Amelia Changes Her Tune.
The trip home was cold, dark, hard and long.
Isaac and Wolf Paw didn't say much, just gave each other instructions about where the current seemed weakest and what to avoid in the stream. They were too cold and tired to have much conversation, even though Isaac's mind was galloping with thoughts, and Wolf Paw seemed focused only on where the paddle needed to go next.
The sky was turning from black to deep blue as they pulled the canoe back onto the shore, where they had gotten in only 24 hours earlier. They hid it as well as they could, but without the thoroughness they would have used otherwise.
The walk back home seemed farther with every step, even though the increasing light was bringing the forest to life, and the familiar sights were giving the boys a sense of security.
As they walked into the farmyard, Aunt Peggy was walking out to the fire.
“My, you are up early. Just in time to look after the animals. Autumn will be grateful. She's a little tired this morning. Maybe I'll let her and Amelia rest a little longer. Thanks. You are such good workers,” she said.
Isaac and Wolf Paw didn't say anything.
“Did you have a nice fishing trip?” she asked.
“How far did you go?”
Isaac paused. “Pretty uneventful,” he said.
Wolf Paw nodded.
“Well, get the chores done. We'll have a good breakfast by then. You'll need it because your father has lot that needs done today in the pasture.”
Great. The boys shuffled to the barn in order to do the chores with as little effort as possible, and with their eyes closed when they could.
“What do you think they were planning to do?” Isaac asked as he slowly poured a bucket of grain into the first horse stall, for Chestnut, Autumn's horse.
“I don't know, steal something, I figure,” Wolf Paw said, throwing feed at the chickens.
“I mean to me. What were they planning to do to me?”
“I doubt they knew. You weren't part of the plan.”
“Do you think we should tell anyone?” Isaac asked.
“I've been wondering that, too. They can't be up to any good and someone else is going to be hurt, unless we say something,” Wolf Paw said.
“But we don't know what they're planning, and if we accuse them of what they did, who will believe us? We have the canoe back. I have my gun. What can we do?”
Wolf Paw sighed. “You're right. We'll just let it go. We don't want to say anything to our families or they won't let us go anywhere. Let's just keep quiet.”
Isaac came to Hickory's stall. It reminded him that he intended to change his horse's name.
“What should I call him?” Isaac asked.
“Very funny, besides, he's a boy.”
“Bo?” Isaac chuckled.
“I might be tempted to beat him.”
“How about Greentown?”
Isaac paused. “Green. Just Green. People will wonder, but we will know.”
He turned to his horse.
“Good morning, Green. Eat up. We'll take Wolf Paw back to Grandmother after he helps me in the pasture.”
“Or maybe before,” Wolf Paw said.
“After. Let's see what Aunt Peggy has for breakfast.” The boys walked back, a little more energized by the bright morning and the fact they were warm again.
They stood by the cooking fire and watched as Autumn and Amelia approached.
“Better get your chores done,” Isaac said.
“We saw you out in the barn,” Autumn said.
“You're welcome,” he said.
“You're welcome for us doing them for you yesterday,” she replied.
“Catch any fish?”
“Any fish catch you?”
“A few,” Isaac said and glanced at Wolf Paw, who was rolling his eyes. He looked at Amelia.
“How are you liking Oakland by now?”
“It is not Boston,” she said.
“I'm sure it isn't.”
“But it has some nice parts that Boston does not have.”
“A sister,” Amelia said and she smiled at Autumn.
“It'd be all right to take that part back to Boston,” Isaac said, and Autumn wrinkled her nose at her cousin.
The boys enjoyed their breakfast like few before, after the long trip home and the meager supper from the night before.
Then they went to the pasture to see what John had for them to do. More fence mending, a session of restacking hay in the barn loft, gathering the sheep to check for ticks and cutting down weeds near the house made for a full morning and afternoon before Isaac could saddle up Green, formerly known as Hickory, and take Wolf Paw back to Grandmother's camp on the Day farm.
She looked glad to see the boys, and seemed just as casual as if she had watched them leave an hour before. She had no idea how much had happened since they left her.
The boys were happy to keep it that way. Wolf Paw bid his friend good-bye. He would return to the reserve the next day after the morning market house session.
“Greet the friends for me,” Isaac said.
“Especially Eliza?” Wolf Paw asked.
“Greet her, too,” Isaac sighed. “She's one of the friends.”
“I won't be back for a couple of weeks. See you then,” Wolf Paw said.
“Don't let Amelia drown,” he added. “And don't go to Newville…”
He paused. “…without me.”