Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Settlement at Number 4


Little Wolf showed the brothers a small cove just short of the English settlement. As the canoe pulled into the setback and the three men rested from paddling, Alain thought about what their next move might be. He wasn't sure how to proceed from here, wait for nightfall? For the moment he wanted to stretch his legs, so he pointed at an area along the shoreline of the cove which was hidden from the river's main channel.

Little Wolf studied the surrounding area very carefully before nodding his assent. As quietly as possible the men paddled ashore. As soon as the canoe was in the shallows, Little Wolf slipped over the side and disappeared into the brush.

"Now where the Hell is he going?" Alain murmured just loud enough for Jacques to hear.

"I think he's going to have a look around, he's nervous, I can tell. Did you notice the other signs of settlement downriver?" Jacques was uncharacteristically subdued, Alain was somewhat relieved that his brother was taking this seriously. He had had no idea that the English were building more settlements along the river, along the Abenaki side of the river at that.

As the brothers settled in, pulling the canoe into the brush with them, Little Wolf returned. In the sand on the bank he used a stick to draw the location of the small English settlement in relation to the river. Using signs and gestures Little Wolf relayed to the brothers what he knew of the settlement. He also conveyed the idea that they should wait for moonrise before setting out. They should rest for now. The settlement was close by.

Josiah Wilkins decided to walk down to the river. The day had been hot and the air by the water was often cooler. The captain of the militia had had word from Number 3,¹ which some folks were starting to call Lunenburg for whatever reason, that Indian activity was on the rise along the river.

A party of Mohican, friendly to the English, had passed through there some days back with worrisome news, there was an Abenaki war party down near the falls not far from Number 3. The Mohican claimed that the Abenaki had killed two of their number. Their estimate of the size of the war party was at least twenty warriors.² The Abenaki were not friends of the English.

As Wilkins approached the river, he saw that the moon was already well up, he liked the way its reflection danced on the waters of the river. He stood there for a few long moments before deciding to go back up to the settlement, dawn came early and they were still consolidating the homes of the people who had moved closer to where they planned to build a small fort. The Governor, Jonathan Belcher, had sent word to fortify the plantations. He was sure that war was coming.

As he walked, he paused and looked back at the river. He was startled as he caught a glimpse of a watery flash near the far bank, he had also heard a splash.

"Must be a fish," he thought to himself, "what fool would be upon the river at this time of night?

Alain was glad of the dark, his face burned with embarrassment, he had misjudged his stroke and his paddle had hit the water awkwardly, creating a splash and quite a bit of noise. Little Wolf had turned and looked at him in alarm. The Indian had reached back and placed a hand on Alain's arm, he wanted them to cease paddling. He knew that noises carried further at night and he knew that the settlement was only a bow shot away from the other bank.

Little Wolf studied the far shore, when he was convinced that they hadn't been spotted, he motioned for the brothers to start paddling again.

Alain was mortified, he seldom made mistakes like that, carelessness here could get them killed. The English were fairly thick along this stretch of river, something that the authorities in New France would certainly want to know. But they had to survive the long journey to tell them this news.

The three men continued to paddle upriver during the night, they had taken to resting by day and traveling during the dark hours. The moon helped a great deal, the night also hid them from the eyes of their enemies. It made Alain nervous though, his enemies couldn't see him, nor could he see them. He was thankful for the presence of Little Wolf who knew the territory well.

Though his village was further south, Little Wolf had hunted this area with his brother since he was a boy. He knew the people along the river, at least on his side of the river, and they knew him. But in only another day, they would reach lands unfamiliar to him.

Little Wolf was unsure whether to continue with les frères or to turn back. He liked the idea of seeing this royal mountain les frères spoke of and this was the first time he had traveled without his brother. He had seen the nods of approval from the other men of the tribe when he had announced his intention to go north with les frères, he had also seen the smile and the nod his brother Tall Elk had given him. The look of brotherly pride was unmistakable.

He made his decision right then, he would continue with les frères, they were good companions and Little Wolf had discovered that he had something of an aptitude for language. His French was improving every day, Little Wolf relied on his own tongue less and less.

He had noted the older of les frères, the one called Alain, watching when he had spoken in broken French for the first time. The Frenchman had looked happy that Little Wolf was learning the tongue of les français.

As he pondered these things, he realized that he liked these two men.

¹ Present day Walpole, New Hampshire.
² Actually there were only six, that was Tall Elk's small party. One Leg and He Laughs of the Mohican never did see the Abenaki that ambushed them at the ford. So they exaggerated the numbers of their enemy. In truth, they had no idea.
Author's Note - The settlement at Number 4 eventually became the town of Charlestown, New Hampshire, where my mother lives. My father was born in Walpole, Number 3 if you will...

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.


  1. For a few minutes each day I get to be elsewhere, in another time and another part of the country, thanks Sarge, not too shabby!

  2. Had to pull up google maps to "cage my gyro" on where this story is taking place. For some reason I was thinking further west.

    1. I figured I'd start in my homeland, things will move further west, but not for a while yet.

    2. At the time, that was "The West." Weird. We so think of "West" as, at least starting near the Mississippi, but...

    3. Back in those days the "West" was Ohio/western Pennsylvania/western New York etc.

    4. To some of us in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations the West begins at the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay. In days of yore that was the boundary between the Wampanoag and Narragansett peoples. Old Guns

    5. I still refer to the other side of the Bay as the "Wild West."

  3. We have become so used to noise and light and activity at night in Western Civilization we forget how different the real world is. Thanks Sarge.

    1. One of the more pleasant things I experience when I travel home is that it's much quieter there at night than it is in Little Rhody.

  4. Yup, another great canoeing story. I take it you've done some paddling here or there?

    And it's just like a surprised bunch to over-estimate the surprising bunch.

    Great story already. Some hope, a lot of fear, just like it was back then for everyone.

    1. I've done some paddling, both canoe and kayak, a long, long time ago.

      Thanks Beans!

  5. I like the suspense you can deliver. BTW, in the first paragraph, I believe that "nightfall" is one word, not two.
    Paddling looks like fun. We see a lot of them around the river and sloughs nearby. I'd like to try it, but I find myself unable to get up off the ground with dignity when the paddling is done. And that seems to be the way you do it around here.

    1. Argh! How did that nasty space get in there? (Fixed it.)

      Getting in and out of a canoe (or kayak) isn't as easy as it might seem, at least not while maintaining one's dignity.

  6. An outstanding start to a really good American history historical novel Sarge - For me , I believe this effort will be a more enjoyable read than the WW II historical novel. looking forward to several months of great reading. As a two tour Nam vet I limit my reading & watching of war stories & movies. My wife and I have enjoyed camping & kayaking- we usually planned our vacations around those opportunities, Now at our age the camping component has waned - I had just begun introducing our grand kids to kayaking before Covid 19 hit - I have a short day trip scheduled in two weeks with two of the grands, looking forward to getting back into it as its restful and the best way to enjoy nature near the water.

    1. The thing I loved most about kayaking was the closeness to the water, felt part of it all.

      Enjoy the trip with your grands!

  7. Another character emerges. Very suspenseful.

    Maps, gotta have maps for the readers to get oriented. The brothers and natives know where they are, but we are sorta unsure. Even one with modern places shown might be good- as in "Jeez, I never knew anything happened around here" or that different Indian tribes and French and English all wandered this way."
    Maybe a map from one of the Kenneth Roberts books is now public domain, and close enough?
    I know a (very) little about the Connecticut River from Windsor south, but not north.

    1. A map is a splendid idea. I'm on it!

    2. I google mapped it out the other day, followed the river up into Canada (I have a love for maps) Couldn't quite figure out where they were. Then you mentioned Lunenburg and I found that west of the river in Vermont. Then you threw me for a loop with Walpole which is almost half a state further south. Now I think I have my bearings. I have to ask, How did the brothers get so far south in "hostile" territory? And were they trapping, hunting, trading? why were they there? A Nuke has to ask these things... Sorry if I'm being a pain.

    3. All good questions, which will probably be answered in time. Bear with me.

      (Bears? No one said anything about bears!)

    4. Bears are best to be avoided... unless you're hungrier than they are, and even then with caution.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.