The trail was dry and dusty and the day was hot, she sat up on the seat of the wagon in the long cumbersome dress of English style with corset and too many petticoats under it, wishing for some shade. Wishing she had listened to the wagon master before they set out on this dirty old trail.
Lily Mea came to this new land in hopes of securing a better life than she had been living in England. Her long full hair was the prettiest yellow you had ever seen, so bright it glittered in the sun light. Her blue eyes were light and intelligent , and she is as tall as the day is long maybe a little thin, but still she is a pretty thing. Heads turn as she walks by.That beautiful yellow hair is Lily Mea’s pride, she just loves to swish it from side to side as she walks. She is a sight to see for sure walking along the walkway with those light eyes, that happy smile and all that hair playing in the sun.
The first thing Lily Mea did when getting off the boat in the new land was find a wagon master and reserve space on the next wagon train going west. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds Lily Mea found more resistance than acceptance. Most of the wagon masters took one look at her and flat out said no and wouldn’t say no more. The wagon masters that did answer Lily Mea’s pleas as to why they wouldn’t let her join their train, simply said No single women on the trail and that is all they would say. After a long exhausting day of searching Lily Mea was about to give up and find a meal and a room, when a tall dark man stepped in Lily Mea’s path. As light in hair and eye color as Lily Mea is this man is the exact opposite. He’s tall, much taller than Lily Mea, his hair so black it almost looked blue, his eyes are jet black , there was no smile on that strong and rigid face. His face wasn’t all that friendly but it wasn’t threatening either and after the initial shock of having a stranger step in her path Lily relaxed and let the fear slip away. She still kept up her guard and watched wearily as the stranger continued to approach. ” Excuse me mam, I understand your looking to join a wagon train west.” “Yes sir I am, only so far all the wagon masters have turned me down. So I guess tomorrow I will go in to the next town and see what I can get.” ” Well Mam my name is Joe and I got a small wagon train gathering together and we are fixing to pull out of here in a weeks time. Do you have a wagon?” ” Well not yet, I was planning on buying my supplies after I secured My passage.” Joe grunted and then in his deep baritone voice he told Lily Mea ” Well once you have your supplies you come talk to me, oh and Mam get a different dress one not so frilly without all the under garments.” Lily Mea blushed to have a man talk about her under garments so freely. ” This man is so very forward Lily thought. Before she could answer Joe tipped his hat and said ” Mam I will be on my way, you will find me and my wagon train on the east end of town. You can ask around everyone knows me and will point you in the right direction.” It was to his retreating back that Lily yelled out ” Thanks Mister I will see you tomorrow, oh and my name is Lily Mea.”
The next morning bright and early Lily Mea was out scouring the town for what she would be needing. ” Lets see I will need a wagon and horses to pull them and I suppose I will need pots pans and a plate to eat off. What else will I need on a wagon train?” Lily Mea asked herself. By the end of the day she had gotten a wagon, horses to pull it, feed to feed the horses, hard tact, flour and other ingredients to feed herself, bedding, and all the fixings for cooking as well as bathing. What Lily Mea didn’t do was get a different style of clothing. ” I spent almost a months earnings on this dress and petticoats, I will be danged if I am going to let a complete stranger a man at that tell me how to dress, wagon master or not.” Satisfied with her days accomplishments Lily Mea slept soundly smiling ever so slightly as she dreamed of the fancy life she was going to live, no more maiding for me she dreamt from now on someone will be emptying my chamber pot.
Lily Mea did just as Joe suggested and asked around about him his wagon train and where exactly could she find him. Everyone in town did indeed know Joe and thought he was an okay guy. He had been taking folks west for more than 10 years and never had he had a problem. The towns people said he was smart in ways that others weren’t when it came to riding the trail. He knew when to leave early to beat the snow and other weather disasters, he had a way of avoiding the indians and he always knew where water was. Reassured and ready to go Lily Mea headed to the east end of town towards what she was sure was going to be a bright new future.
With a hand blocking the sun Joe watched Lily Mea come riding in on her new wagon, not just a wagon Lily Mea had splurged and got the covered one so she wouldn’t have to sleep on the ground or out in the open. Lily felt that if your aiming to live a life of grandeur then you need to start out right. ” Now what on earth is he scowling about I wonder.? Lily Mea asked herself as she got nearer to Joe. ” Damn fool woman is still wearing that dress. Don’t she got any better sense?” And that is exactly what Joe asked Lily Mea as he helped off the wagon. Indigent that once again this total stranger felt compelled to comment on her wardrobe Lily Mea replied in a huffy voice ” I spent a whole months wages for this dress and I am going to wear it until I can get myself something even finer. Besides I spent all most all my money paying my passage and on my supplies and if I spend any more I won’t have anything to get started with when we get to Montana. So don’t you be worrying about my cloths, I can take care of myself just fine.” ” Suit yourself it aint no worry to me how you dress, your going to get mighty uncomfortable in that thing you just wait and see.” Joe turned around and began to walk away over his shoulder he hollered back ” Park your wagon at the end of the line and care for your horses. Since your almost broke I guess you’ll be wanting to eat here, might as well save some more money and check out of that hotel your staying in and sleep in your wagon. You won’t be alone out here the Walker family and Mr And Mrs Levinson are saving money the same way.” Lily Mea replied back her thanks but Joe didn’t hear her, he was already busy planning the trip that would begin in three days time. He had a real bad feeling about this trip and he wanted to leave nothing to chance. Normally he like the other wagon masters would’t take a single woman on the trail, this time however Joe felt it didn’t matter any way, he had a newborn and a 6 month pregnant women on this trip all ready. He was hoping that an extra pair of female hands might be helpful along the way. Now he wondered just how much help those fancy hands of hers could possibly be.
The three days past slowly and uneventful with the fellow travelers getting to know one another and last minute preparations being made. Supplies were checked and rechecked horses were groomed and allowed to rest and fatten up a little. Kindling was gathered in large baskets and fire wood was loaded into every wagon. Water containers were filled and hung on the wagons and then a few more water containers were filled and put in each wagon. When the travelers questioned Joe about all the extra wood and water, the weight it would create in the wagon, Joe’s reply was simple ” If you think your wagon is to heavy remove some of the furniture you brought along, we will be needing that extra wood and water when we are out on the the parts of the trail where there aint none. All the travelers walked back to their wagons deep in thought as they settled in for their last night in a civilized town.
With the rising of the sun the wagons rolled west through town. The travelers in their wagons watched curiously as the towns people began walking down the street in the opposite direction. A ritual the towns people do when Joe rolls his wagon train out of town. A quick look back gave Lily Mea and her fellow travelers their answer. All the furniture and family heirlooms that had been left behind was being carried off to be put to good use in someones home or store. looking away with a little sadness in their souls the travelers head to their bright new future out west. No one but Lily Mea noticed the lone man standing in the street watching the strange band of travelers leave town.
The wagon train was a mixed batch of travelers alright. A Jewish couple Mr and Mrs Levinson from New York expecting a child in 3 months hoping to make a go of it as farmers, 4 brothers all with fiery red hair, speaking an english that no one really understood, broad of shoulder but not very tall, they like their beer and their strange songs that make them laugh out loud at the end.The brothers are headed west to make their fortune as trappers and miners. The obviously upper crust Walker family traveling with 3 young sons Bobby, Billy, and Benjamin, a baby girl named Bonnie and a french maid. Then There was Lily with all that yellow hair just flying in the breeze. Joe also hired a few hands to help on the trail and this time he hired only 2 figuring the maid or Lily could do the cooking.
Joe should have hired a cook. Back in England Lily Mea was indeed a maid but she never stepped foot in the kitchen unless it was to fetch something for the Mistress. The french, maid well her job really didn’t include any real maid duties and she couldn’t cook either. Mrs Levinson was in too fragile of a state to be lugging heavy pans around. That left Mrs Walker and she was only a bit better. At least she was willing and the food was passable they wouldn’t starve at any rate. Their first meal had Joe wishing he had hired a cook.
In the beginning the days were exciting and new, everyone happily chatted with one another as they traveled but as the days wore on the chatter died down and the happy group began to get weary. Long hours riding in the wagons or walking was beginning to take its toll bringing aches and pains they never felt before. Lily Mea was sure she wasn’t going to live to see her dreams come true as they made their way over the mountains. There was more walking than riding and a good portion of the time she had to push and pull her wagon to get it up the steep and narrow passage ways. It took weeks but at last the tiny wagon train made it over the mountains onto a flatter plain and they began to make better time getting farther west each day.
Summer was in full swing when this band of travelers reached the plains. Lily Mea had never seen anything like this nothing but flat land for miles and miles not a single tree to be seen. ” Gosh it is hot.” Mrs Walker nodded her head in agreement as she swatted at her boys trying to get them to settle down and not wake the baby she had finally gotten to sleep. Just as Lily Mea spoke Joe happen to ride up to the wagon, ” You think it is hot now you just wait another week its gonna get even hotter. Your are going to wish you had gotten a different dress.” I told you Joe don’t you be worrying about what I am wearing it aint none of your business.” Lily Mea retorted. She was hoping he hadn’t noticed she already had removed 1 petticoat from under her dress. The dress was so stained and dirty there was nothing fancy about it anymore but Lily Mea’s pride wouldn’t let her admit Joe or anyone else for that matter was right she should have gotten a more practical dress, 2 for that matter so she could wash one once in a while. The last time they had stopped near water while Mrs Levinson and Mrs Walker changed into their clean dresses and washed the dirty one Lily Mea just went in the water fully dressed and washed herself as well as the dress, and than sat in the sun to dry, that was more then a week and miles of hot dusty dirty trail ago. Yep Lily Mea thought ” Not a fancy dress any more.” Bumping along the trail in a sort of daze Lily Mea was dreaming of the next water hole and the cool clear water on her skin, when the wagons came to a sudden stop. Jolted into awareness by the unexpected stop Lily Mea all most fell off her seat. All the men quickly rode to the front where Joe is standing looking off into the horizon. They have a quick conference with everyone talking at once and pointing here and there. Disgusted Joe walks away from the men and heads back towards the wagon where all the women have gathered. ” Whats going on Joe? Is something wrong?” Lily nervously ask as the other women eagerly wait for his answer. Joe thinks about it a moment looking towards the front of the wagon train where the men are still babbling like babies and decides what the heck. ” Well ladies we have being trailed since we left Philadelphia. I didn’t think to much of it because he was alone.” Lily Mea vaguely remembers the man standing in the street watching so intently as the wagon train was leaving. ” Well why is it bothering you now? Has something changed?” Joe looked at Lily Mea and answered ” Now he has friends with him and he is no longer trailing us they travel right along with us, they have for a few days now.” ” Friends?” Lily Mea ask. ” yes friends Indian friends.” With the word Indians Mrs Levinson gasped and Mrs Walker called the boys closer to the wagon. The french maid understood little to no English and had up to this point been happily rocking baby Bonnie to sleep, seeing the alarmed looks on the other women’s faces and sensing the tension in the conversation stopped rocking and looked at everyone expectantly. Not really understanding she tried to follow along anyway as Joe explained ” I figured the way he was tracking us he was Indian but figured he was no threat as long as he was alone. The other night I noticed he wasn’t tracking us and I just thought he had lost interest or found something better to follow. It never occurred to me he was just going to get company. Ladies we have to assume they aint here to make nice with us. You all need to stick close keep the children in the wagons and keep a loaded rifle with you at all times. Do not wander from the wagons for any reason. Is that clear?” Every women including the french maid answered with a resounding YES.
The heat and dust were bad enough thought Lily Mea, and now we ride all day with a threatening shadow to the right of us moving when we move, stopping when we stop. “I haven’t slept for days and my nerves are about to break, I honestly don’t think I can take anymore. It can’t possibly get worse than this.” Everyone was on edge even Baby Bonnie was crying more than normal. Each day started even hotter and dryer than the day before. The entire wagon train was grumbling about the heat and lack of even a little breeze. The air was stifling and no one wanted to move. Trying to use as little effort as possible packing up the wagons no one was really paying attention to any thing but the heat. They never had a chance, the band of travelers was taken completely by surprise when the Indians attacked. The Paspahegh attacked with no warning, quickly killing the armed guards Joe had hired. The men and women of the wagon train fought back with all their might. They held off the Indians for a long time. It seemed like days when in fact it had only been hours. The dead both white and Indian lay sprawled everywhere, blood forming puddles in the dirt. Lily Mea watched this all unfold in front of her eyes in horror. She could hear herself screaming and she couldn’t seem to stop. The baby was crying loudly from somewhere behind her and Mrs Walker lay dead in front of her but Lily Mea was to afraid to move. She heard a loud curdling scream and when she looked to see just what had made that sound Lily Mea wished she hadn’t. Standing outside her wagon a bloody savage of a man stood holding the French maids skull by the hair high in the air letting the blood drip down his arm. Lily Mea saw Joe get hit from behind and crumple to the ground dead or dying and all hope left her. Shortly after seeing Joe fall it all got quite except for Bonnie crying. Lily Mea coward for a long while in the wagon before finally peeking out the back flap. What she saw brought her right back to her knees. They were all dead the young boys, the brothers with the fiery red hair and funny songs, Mr Levinson Lay almost on top of Mrs Levinson who even in death held tight to her unborn child. Mr Walker had one of his boys in his arms and another lay under him. Lily Mea could only imagine why she had been left alive and she was praying just as hard as she could that she would just die. It wasn’t long after that when the savages came for her, they seemed unconcerned that she might try and run from them they didn’t even tie her up. They stood there taking turns touching her hair holding it in the sunlight and talking excitedly to one another.Lily Mea had never been more scared in her life. It was then Lily Mea heard the baby crying softly from somewhere behind her. Bonnie was hungry and without the French maid there was no milk for Bonnie. Lily took a tentative step towards the baby and the Indians let her go, following close behind. Lily Mea picked up the baby with a real sadness in her heart thinking that Bonnie wouldn’t live with nothing to eat. Sitting down on the ground trying no to cry Lily Mea began to rock the baby as she had seen the French Maid do a hundred times. ” Hush little baby don’t you cry its going to be alright just you wait and see.” Lily began cooing to the baby and she settle down a little but Bonnie was hungry and couldn’t really settle down completely. All of a sudden Lily Mea felt a foot at her back as it lightly kicked her and she heard a gruff grunt above her head. Looking up to see what new horror life was about to bring her Lily Mea was relieved to see her worst fear wasn’t about to happen but instead one of the warriors was standing over her with a leather pouch of some sort with what looked like a nipple over it. The savage mimicked feeding the baby and handed her the pouch. Before giving it to Bonnie, Lily Mea tasted it herself and was happy to taste warm creamy milk. Lily Mea didn’t even try to think about where the milk came from and simply fed Bonnie who eagerly sucked at the make shift nipple. Once the baby was fed and the wagons completely ransacked and emptied of what ever passed as bounty to the Indians, the savages and their hostages were on their way.
Walking all night and into the morning hours Lily Mea was sure she was going to drop dead in her tracks, she didn’t she just kept walking and stumbling sometimes down right falling. One of the warriors would pick her up and push her forward never uttering a word.Not that Lily Mea would understand anyway. She had been listening to them talk to each other and could not make head or tails of it. The speech was nothing like she had ever heard before. She could tell by their actions and the emotion when they spoke that something was worrying them and they wanted to move fast. When the sun was high up in the sky and the heat of the day started settling in the band of warriors found some trees and set up camp for the afternoon. As Lily Mea lay down to sleep she suddenly realizes they are headed back east.
Lily woke with a start when she felt a light kicked in the small of her back. The same Indian that had given her the leather pouch with milk was standing over her with a fussing Bonnie and a fresh pouch of milk. This time while Bonnie was feeding Lily Mea did began to wonder where were they getting the milk. A quick look around showed her what she had been to frightened and tired to see before, this pack of Indians it seems travel with a goat.
The group of Indians and their yellow haired hostage traveled mostly by night and off the well used trails. Making travel difficult for Lily Mea, her eyes quickly became accustomed to the dark but their path was full of rocks and tangled brush. Lily Mea was either twisting her ankle on the rocks or the tangled thorny brush would be tearing at her dress and pulling her down. Lily Mea was thankful they didn’t make her carry the baby because she surely would have dropped her by now. They traveled like this for many days, enough that Lily Mea had lost count and then one day everything changed. The Indians seemed to be more relaxed and were now traveling by day. Lily Mea had to admit to herself that it was much easier to travel over the mountains with out a wagon. The narrow steep paths are much easier on foot. Even the Indians got off their horses and lead them up and around the mountain paths. Once the group made its way out of the mountains it was as if there was no more need to hurry. A lake came into view Lily Mea didn’t dare to hope that she might get the chance to wallow in the cool clear water and feel clean again. Much to her surprise not only did she get to wallow in the water when she got out of the water, camp was set up after only walking half a day and from the looks of the camp Lily Mea got the idea they may stay a while.
Lily Mea was right the Indians were not leaving any time soon. They swam, fished and appeared to be playing games. For the most part the Indians left Lily Mea to herself and Bonnie. Once in a while the warrior with the milk pouch would come and stare at the baby and touch Lily Mea’s hair, no other warrior approached her. The Indians quickly learned Lily Mea was no cook, after spitting out the first thing she tried to serve them one of the warriors did the cooking. Lily never did know for sure what those Indian braves were yelling at her that evening but she knew it wasn’t nice and probably included accusations of her trying to kill them. Stifling a laugh Lily Mea thought ” Serves you right you devils you, kidnapping me and little Bonnie.” Lily couldn’t cook but that didn’t mean she didn’t work. Through pantomime and sign language Lily learned what berries to pick and where to get kindling and fire wood as well as how to carry the water. The brave that it appeared was her guide and guard showed Lily Mea how to tie Bonnie like a snug little bug to her back making it easy for Lily Mea to travel around and do her work.Many times as Lily Mea roamed freely from here to there she wondered why the Indians never tied her up or acted like she might run away. Even more she wondered why she didn’t try to escape. In fact she didn’t even think about escaping. Strangely enough now that the fast pace night walking was over Lily Mea felt safe.
Days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into a month. The seasons were beginning to change. The oppressive heat of the summer began fading into the cooler comfortable days of Autumn. Lily Mea enjoyed watching the on the trees turn the bright shades of yellow, orange, and even red. The Indians and Lily Mea had settled into routine that was slow and easy almost lazy. One day while out in the woods collecting kindling and enjoying the warm rays of sun floating through the brightly colored leaves above her head Lily Mea became of aware of two men dressed in the same style as the Indians she was with approaching her. Lily Mea felt fear and uncertainty when one said something to her.The nearest one spoke to her again, his words slower but much different cadence of the paspahegh speech she had grown accustomed to,and he stepped toward her when she did not answer. Over come with fear Lily Mea let out a scream that was heard at the very ends of the earth. The closest Indian grabbed Lily Mea by the hair placing a hand over her mouth. Lily Mea was past fear and running on shear terror. She was trying to scream and now kick her self free of the man restraining her, just as the Indian was about to hit Lily Mea in the face with a closed fist, Lily Mea’s guardian came crashing through the trees brandishing a weapon so fast Lily Mea never saw it as it fell across her attackers head. The blow to the head wasn’t a killing blow but it left the man laying unconscious on the ground. Turning to deal with the companion of the attacker, Reo stopped in his tracks dropped his weapon and let out what sounded to Lily Mea like a laugh when she turned and looked, the two Indians stood smiling at each other warmly shaking arms. As far as Lily Mea could figure some how the two men were related and part of the same tribe. the man laying on the ground groaning in pain it would appear is also from the same tribe ,and he had less of a sense a humor about being hit in the head then his companion and Reo who were both standing over him laughing. An amazed Lily Mea sat watching the three men in wonder as she rubbed her neck and face.
That night the braves all sat around a large fire eating drinking and laughing, often looking back at Lily Mea were she sat back from the fire feeding Bonnie. Lily Mea couldn’t understand what was being said but she knew she was the main topic of conversation, and she wasn’t liking it one bit. In fact she was a little scared of her captors for the first time since they started out on trail so many months ago. ” I don’t know why Bonnie but I got a real bad feeling about those two new fellas” Lily Mea whispered to the baby, Bonnie answered by snuggling a little closer to Lily Mea in response to the soft spoken words. Once Bonnie was fed Lily Mea took the baby and settled in her shelter. She lay awake most of the night on edge jumping at every little noise she heard.
Lily Mea must of fallen a sleep at some point in the early morning hours because when she a woke with a start the sun was high in the sky and the day was already hot. Lily Mea stifled the panicked scream she was about to let out when she realized she wasn’t alone in her tent. Franticly looking around Lily mea couldn’t not see Little Bonnie any where. All she could see was a strange looking old women sitting across from her smiling the craziest toothless smile Lily Mea had ever seen.