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.
Isaac and Wolf Paw had their own special path to the Oakland Inn. Most people took the state road north out of Mansfield then turned right on a road, hardly more than a wide path, that went to the Inn, passing Isaac's home on the way.
Others took a less traveled but more direct way northeast out of Mansfield, that passed the Inn on its way to Olivesburgh, five miles farther.
Isaac and Wolf Paw walked through the woods on what was not the shortest route, but much more interesting, with grapevines, honey trees, climbing rocks, creek beds, raspberry bushes, even a couple of small caves. The scenery was always changing due to the seasons, and so the boys always discovered something they hadn't seen the last time.
As a result, their arrival at the Oakland Inn always seemed to be later than it should have been, but only rarely did it get the boys in trouble. This was one of those times.
“Where have you been?” Isaac's mother asked, as they emerged from the woods near the barn just south of the two-story log inn.
“The guests are arriving, the horses need tended and the new girl from Boston has arrived to live with Autumn this summer.”
Uncle Jacob was the brother of Isaac's stepfather John and owner of the Inn. Aunt Peggy was the sister of Isaac's mother, so it was a double relation. Autumn was Isaac's 10-year-old cousin and this girl from Boston was coming to live at the Inn for the summer because her father was Uncle Jacob's best friend when they were boys. Just as Isaac and Wolf Paw were best friends.
Isaac’s look said, “don't fret, we aren't that late,” but he knew that the family counted on him to look after the animals when guests arrived, so that the women could tend to the meal and Uncle Jacob could entertain the guests. Uncle Jacob loved to tell stories, catch up on news and play the fiddle.
Isaac handed the bag of squirrel meat to his mother and set about his chores. He did not mind helping with the animals; he had a knack for knowing what horses wanted and most guests could tell that Isaac had taken extra special care. Manes were combed, hooves were cleaned of mud, coats were brushed and stomachs were fed.
Wolf Paw helped, although with less enthusiasm. He was not fond of horses. He could not see in their eyes what Isaac seemed to see. They were just creatures of toil, nothing more.
Isaac knew that while Wolf Paw was glad for their ability to carry him much more quickly than he could walk, he just didn't understand them. He tried to hide that, but other people knew. So did horses.
“I will go out and tend the fire, stack the wood for tomorrow,” Wolf Paw said.
“Yeah, sure,” Isaac said. “Oh, and Aunt Peggy wants us to meet the new girl.”
“All right, then, tomorrow. I'll grab us some supper,” Isaac said, and ran up to the Inn.
As he approached he heard Uncle Jacob on the fiddle, except Uncle Jacob was standing by the fireplace. The new girl was playing the fiddle.
“She's pretty good,” Isaac said.
“Her name's Amelia,” said his cousin Autumn, standing at the door next to him. “I think she's pretty lost here in Ohio, but she knows how to play.”
Suddenly Uncle Jacob was playing the same tune; Amelia seemed surprised, but pleased.
“Looks like you have some competition,” Isaac smiled at Autumn.
“Looks like I'm no longer outnumbered,” Autumn smiled back.
Isaac snuck into the kitchen and grabbed some chicken and biscuits, plus a cask of cider, and headed out to the barn, where he and Wolf Paw would bed down. On his way, he ran into his stepfather John coming up the road.
“I missed you today,” John said.
“I was busy.”
“I was busy, what?”
“I was busy, sir,” Isaac sighed.
“Too busy to stop by the house and find out how you are needed there?” John asked.
“I came right here to tend the horses.”
“And Uncle Jacob and I appreciate that, but I need you at the farm at daybreak to take care of the morning chores.”
“Where are you going to be?” Isaac asked.
“Not that you have to know, but Jacob and I are going to fell a few trees on the west field.”
“You don't want me there?”
“You know how it frightens your mother for anyone to do that. Understandably.”
“Well, be careful.”
“We will. And you be on time,” John said.
“Crack of dawn,” Isaac replied, walking to the barn as his father strutted into the Inn.
As the boys ate their supper, they listened to the music coming from the Inn, along with the loud conversation, hearty laughter and occasional “Huzzah's” to cheer the musician.
“Do you think you'll ever leave Upper Sandusky,” Isaac asked of Wolf Paw.
“It's our reserve. The Great Father has given us that land forever,” Wolf Paw said.
“I know, but the law says all Indians have to leave Ohio by 1833. That's only two years.”
“That's the others. We have a treaty, and will stay there forever,” Wolf Paw said. “I was born there; it's where my people live.”
“Hey, remember the first time we met?”
“I was with Grandmother and you were with your mother.”
“In town, at the marketplace. We were what, 6 or 7?”
“Six and 7,” Wolf Paw said.
“We started chasing pigs around the park.”
“Till one bit you on the behind,” Wolf Paw laughed.
“My mother invited your grandmother to bring her goods to the Inn, to show Uncle Jacob.”
“Grandmother felt right at home when she met your family. She's told me that a lot.”
“My mother always speaks well of her, too,” Isaac said.
“We started making our special paths that day.”
“Some paths more special than others,” Isaac said.
“True,” Wolf Paw replied.