"...I trusted in the Almighty… I knew I could only be killed once,
and I had to die sometime."
-Anne Bailey, 1823

Monday, March 29

Mud Scout

March 28 ~29. Auspicious beginnings to the Blue Heron Scout: Small flock of spring turkeys were spied upon a flat as two large males puffed and strutted for hens, displayed their magnificence. Happily, Mr. Browder, of the Longhunter Leather Company, chanced upon me prior to our arranged time and location, and we made a quick study of these fine animals in their glory. If not for fear of alerting any natives in proximity, surely a turkey would have graced the mess this very eve. Mr. Browder and I continued together to the Story Inn, our ordained assembly point. Within moments we were met with others of our scouting contingent; Mr. Egener, Mr. Blackerby and his native son Jeremiah, Mr. Goodwin who is known to all as Pit, Mr. Henderson the renowned potter, and Captain Jacobs with his friend Mr. Harmeson. Together, we convened to review our provisions and maps. After remarking with great humor upon my skills as an artist and mapmaker we set off for Jacobs Station.

Mr. Blackerby, the Tracker Jeremiah, Mr. Browder and Pit set off afoot. I gladly joined Mr. Egener in his fine pirogue, while Captain Jacobs and Mr. Harmeson launched Captain Jacobs newly made pirogue, Mr. Henderson carried many supplies of the men afoot in his small punt.

While weighed down heavily with goods and provisioning our small fleet made haste until such time as a small beast made his presence known with a snap of his tail. We admired his sleek coat as he swam alongside Mr. Henderson, though afore long he evaded us. Had Pit carried in his fine traps Mr. Flattail’s hide would most surely have been in Pit’s possession!

Our small company arrived at Jacobs Station and disembarked, in a short time the troop afoot appeared and required passage from their side of the waterway. Mr. Egener made the ferry trip several times and once more we were assembled together. Captain Jacobs and Mr. Harmeson made a quick survey of the area to determine the area for encampment. Suddenly, a foreign sound to the south sent all to arms. Three natives boldly stepped into view. Pit and Mr. Blackerby immediately strode aggressively toward the men, but were halted by a word from Captain Jacobs.

The native’s leader, a slender man with scalplock, warily but with much confidence came forward, while his two men remained on guard. Their lack of war paint and clear intent to communicate was a small comfort, but the company was vigilant, instantly taking points of defense. The captain laid out trade goods and then stepped forward with a gift held forth. The two men took stock of one another and the noble savage spoke words only intelligible to the captain. With handsigns, a few words of French, and our own tongue, a rough communication was made between the men. With a trade of goods between the leaders a tentative accord was struck. Recently from a maple sugar camp the natives produced a weight of the cakes and offered them to the company. Their leader made it known to us that they were traveling ahead of their families and were much concerned with our intent in this land. Much concerned were they over recent settlements being made in their hunting grounds. The captain confirmed our intent to merely travel through. Our accord now firmly sealed, Captain Jacobs invited these men to join our company for the evening.

The area for our encampment was determined with the help of the natives and shortly order was established, camp made and a fire begun for the mess. A contingent set off for a rough scout of the area surrounding the encampment, whilst a few remained to keep a watchful eye over our newly formed friendship. Upon the scouting contingent’s return a bit of good natured pugilism was taken up by Captain Jacobs and myself. Whilst Captain Jacobs feels certain of his success in the match, his position face down in the mud with my arm covering his windpipe causes me to believe myself to be the victor; if not in skill nor strength, then certainly in spirit.

An evening of fellowship and camaraderie passed without incident. Cloud cover kept the air relatively warm, but soon let forth with a drizzling rain that failed to dampen the company’s spirits. Huddled in my bed of leaves with my blankets and oil cloth, neither the rain nor the temperature were of any consequence to me, however a watchful eye remained upon the tamed savages sleeping nearby; my own rest delayed until theirs was certain. After but a few short hours of sleep, Mr. Browder and I took up watch over the company, soon joined by Mr. Egener. As the men arose it was discovered not all had enjoyed a warm or dry bed. Some found their choice of bedding inadequate or poorly positioned, leaving them more than a bit damp, but all remained in high spirits once coffee and tea was properly taken.

Our native brothers left the camp without incident in the early morn as a dull light filtered through the clouds during a break in the rain. All signs of their brief sojourn wiped away in all but our journals and memories. The company was soon trail ready and decamped. As with the previous day, a portion of our party traveled the water way whilst others cut a trail. Water, dirt, and mud from the continued spring rains seeped into every fiber of our clothing, packs and nearly every crevice as we proceeded upon our way, causing the members of our group to rename the scout from Blue Heron Scout to Mud Scout. Our small, weary, and very muddy company dispersed after taking in a hearty midday meal.

One can only hope each man found comfort in joining in fellowship and company for but a short time. T’was certain that each was a valued member of our little band of brothers, lead by an able captain in an uncertain and dangerous time. I shall recall this time spent together with much fondness, fine memories and a desire to cross paths again with any of these good men.