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.
Church took forever to finish, as Isaac sat there, thinking the bear was nothing compared to what he was about to face.
But, to his surprise, when the benediction had been given, the adults came up and congratulated him for his fine thinking.Mother-types hugged him and father-types shook his hand. Rev.
Shuh thanked him for bringing up something so important and Isaac's mother, looking relieved, gave him a pat on the back. John came up and tried to make light of it.
“What am I going to do with you?” he said, with a half grin.
Isaac wasn't having it.
“You're not going to do anything with me. This is all I am. I know you felt sorry for me because I didn't have a father, but I had a father and you don't get to take his place. I am a Baughman and if you think you can just make me forget that, you have another thing coming,” and he turned around and stormed out of the house, walking toward the barn.
John was three steps behind him.
“What do you think I am trying to do? Make you forget where you came from? And where is that? You came from the Good Lord, to a mother and father who thought you were the best thing in the world, and you know how I knew that? Because they told me, when you were born.
“I didn't just feel sorry for you and your mother when your father died, I felt sorry for me. I lost a best friend when he died, and I should have been there to keep that branch from falling.
“Look, I don't know much about being a father, I admit it. I am trying the best I know how. That's something else I miss about David Baughman, my friend. He was a good father.”
Isaac was not sure what to say. He felt sad and foolish and sorry and surprised. John spoke once more.
“All I know is every day I thank the Good Lord that he allowed me to marry your mother and to share my life with you as my son. And I don't know what I would have done if you had not killed that bear, before it killed you.”
Isaac sat down on the bench by the barn. He wanted to cry but men don't cry. He wanted to hug his father, but they were not the hugging type.
He just sat there, took a deep breath and said, “Thank you, Father.”
His father replied, “Thank you, son.”
Then, after an awkward moment, he added, “I'll be in the house with the guests. Come get some of your mother's fried chicken.”
“I'll be in.” Isaac sat out by the barn until he was sure everyone was more distracted by eating than by wondering how he was.
As he was returning to the house, Emily was walking up to him with a plate of food. He thanked her and they ate out under the tree, where the rest of the children had gathered. As the families began to gather their things to leave, Isaac heard Uncle Jacob and a couple of other men talking with Samuel Lewis, who, like so many others, had come not only to worship but to look in on Amelia's progress.
“Do you have any idea who could have done this?” Mr. Osbun was asking.
“No, I mean they were not easy to find, so someone had to plan it,” Samuel said.
“How much was there?” Mr. Charles asked. “I hate to admit it. More than $2,400. Most of everything I had.”
The men whistled.
“Were they bills or coins?”
“You had them in bags?”
“No,” Samuel said, “In two boxes.”
“One plain one and one with your initials on them. S and L, Samuel Lewis,” Isaac heard himself say.
The men stopped and stared.
“Is there anything you want to tell us, Isaac?”
He shared the one story he had held back the night before. He still didn't say that he knew who the men were and why he knew them.
I've said enough for one day.
The men hitched up the wagon and explained to their wives that they had an errand to run, and that Isaac was coming with them. Jacob invited his brother to come along.
“Let me take Green,” Isaac said.
“Who?” John asked.
“Green. Oh, that's Hickory. I changed his name. That's another story,” Isaac said.
“We'll have time for plenty of stories,” John said.
“I'll get my horse. The others can take the wagon. The trip to Millsborough went quickly, as everyone was pushing to get there. Isaac had a chance to explain changing Green's name, to tell of his conversations with Squire Grey-Eyes and to tell about his friends at the reserve. He even took a chance by telling about his episode with Jack Bender and his partners.
“I know Jack,” Samuel said. “Tom, too. They were around last month, helping at the house. They asked a few questions that seemed rather personal but I didn't think anything about it, until now.”
When they got to Millsborough, it was about the same time of day that Isaac had been there before. He pointed to the area of the dead tree as he stood on the road, and they started down. Mr. Charles and Mr. Osbun stayed with the horses. They passed by the original hollow log on their way, and Isaac saw that the brush had been removed.
In fact, there was dirt and broken limbs everywhere and someone -- Isaac knew who -- had been trying to find something. I just hope they didn't dig too far down the hill, Isaac thought.
“The boxes should be right…over…here,” and Isaac saw his tree was undisturbed.
He pulled away the brush and rocks and removed the layer of dirt, revealing the boxes. Jacob reached in and pulled out the first box, the plain one and John took it to a small clearing, while Jacob grabbed the other box. Samuel reached for his keys and opened one, then the other. Each was full of gold coins, and paper dollars.
“Oh, thank God,” Samuel said.
“I'll say,” Jacob added.
“This is a miracle, that you were where you were, twice,” John said.
“And it's a miracle that you were here a third time,” came a voice from behind them. Isaac recognized the voice -- Jack Bender.