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 caught up with Wolf Paw and the old ladies just as they were starting west on Market Street, heading out of Mansfield. He was riding his new horse, a 2-year-old chestnut colored stallion he named Hickory, after President Andrew Jackson, whose nickname was “Ol' Hickory.”
The horse was rather free spirited but had taken to Isaac like houseflies to lard, and now Isaac rode him high in the saddle, hoping everyone would see him and be a little jealous.
Wolf Paw was driving the team of two tired black horses, pulling a wagon as the women sat in back. It would be a slow, 10-hour ride, which Isaac thought Hickory could have done in four or five, but he decided not to be in a hurry. It was a good road most of the way, on mostly level ground after the first few miles. They went through Millsborough and Galion and Leesville, all little settlements with a few cabins around a mill and an inn.
Then came the village of Bucyrus before arriving at the Wyandot Reserve, on the upper Sandusky River. Isaac was glad to be at the reserve. He knew he would hear stories of Wolf Paw's ancestors, and see some of his friends, most of whom were friendly to him. And, he would see Eliza Hansberger.
She was a year older than him and as pretty as any girl could be, with a gripping smile and luminous dark eyes. Plus, she could run faster than any of the boys. Isaac had met Eliza five years before, when he was seven and first visited the village with his Uncle Jacob. They had traded milled corn, salted meat and barrels of cider for a whole wagon load of baby animals - pigs, sheep and chickens - making for the loudest and smelliest wagon ride home Isaac could remember.
Eliza was just as pretty then, but Isaac didn't think so much about that. He was just glad when she was part of the friends that gathered to play, such as Francis Cotter and his older brother Anthony, Mary Miller and Mary Fletcher, little John Wesley Grey-Eyes and his older sister Margaret, and the big kids, Mathew Mudeater and his sister, Taressa.
Every trip to the reserve was filled with games, laughter, hunting, horse racing and stories. Isaac felt at home with Wolf Paw and his friends, just as Wolf Paw felt a part of Isaac's family.
Today, as he rode into the reserve, he tried to look as tall as he could, in case Eliza would see him, which she did and waved to him a special salute-type wave they had made up for each other a couple of years earlier. He tried to look grown up and serious, but he couldn't keep from smiling, and giggling a little as he salute-waved back.
Then he turned Hickory to the right and rode over to her. It was the first time she had seen his new horse.
“What a beautiful stallion” she said.
“His name is Hickory, want a ride?” Isaac said, then nervously realized that he might sound a bit forward. Before he could worry about that, Eliza was reaching out her hand and climbing on behind Isaac.
“Let's ride,” she said.
He felt a little funny, sitting in a saddle, while she sat bareback behind him. Most of the Wyandots did not use saddles. He would have removed the saddle before he got to the reserve except for two things - he forgot about it and he was not very good at riding bareback.
Eliza didn't seem to notice though, and soon she and Isaac were trotting through the village, then galloping around the pastures before returning to the center green. He did not want to push Hickory too hard after riding him all the way from Mansfield. Still, he didn't want the moment to end.
As they hopped off Hickory, Wolf Paw and Francis were there to greet him, with both Marys running up. Isaac could see Anthony keeping his distance; he figured he may be in for a rough time, because he knew that Anthony had been paying special attention to Eliza.
It's definitely getting more complicated. I wish I knew what I was doing, Isaac thought.
“Welcome back, Brother Apple Tree,” Francis said.
That was a name Francis had given him when he found out Isaac knew John Chapman, a popular Mansfield resident known throughout the area as Appleseed John, because of his many apple orchards in the area.
The sun was setting, and the horses needed attention after a long day, but everyone used the occasion of Isaac's arrival to help with caring for the animals then gathering around the fire for stories and joking and eating and teasing and laughing, before the elders instructed them to quiet down and go to sleep.
The youth all complained, as all generations all over the world had done before, then got up and went to their respective homes.
Isaac and Wolf Paw bedded down before a cold fireplace in Grandmother's cabin. As they were lying there, Isaac asked Wolf Paw, “Do you feel different about any of the girls than you used to?”
“Different?” Wolf Paw asked.
“You know, special,” Isaac said.
“Special?” Wolf Paw asked.
“Forget I said anything,” Isaac grumbled.
“Yes, I do, but she doesn't even see me,” Wolf Paw said.
“You won't say anything to anyone?”
“Cross my heart. Who?” Isaac asked.
“Who else would it be?” Wolf Paw replied.
“She's nice, beautiful, too. But she's two years older than you and David Young is sweet on her,” Isaac said.
“Tell me what I don't know.”
“I guess I'm sweet on someone, too,” Isaac said.
“Yeah, Eliza,” Wolf Paw said.
“It's that obvious?”
“Only if you are not blind and really slow,” Wolf Paw said.
“That's why Anthony was shooting arrows at you with his thoughts. He wants to marry her.”
“Marry her? She's 13,” Isaac stammered.
“And he is 15. A lot happens in just a few years, just like David thinks he wants to marry Margaret.”
“Well, I don't want to marry anyone, not now, not in a few years, not for a forever long time,” Isaac said.
Unless it's Eliza, Isaac thought to himself.