Chapter Two

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The morning was so much better.

I woke up, smelling fresh coffee and some turkey bacon on a rising fire. Grace was already gone, and so were her blankets. I guessed she was already at the creek, washing her blankets off.

Papa greeted me with another peice of grass in his mouth. "Morning, Emily!"

I made my way to Papa's side, and he smelled of wood chippings. He's already been cutting this morning, and it was only the first light of dawn. "Papa, last night I couldn't sleep, so I took a walk down there," I pointed down the treeline. Now, in the light, it seemed more welcoming. "And then, in the valley, I saw smoke. Well, it was probably smoke."

Papa put a finger to his scratchy chin. He thought for a minute, then said, "I don't recall us having closeby neighbors. Maybe it was the trick of the stars, Emily. I've done that a couple times during my years."

So, I made my way out from Papa's arms and back to the trees. Mourning doves chirped happily, making uneven coo coo hoo, hoo hoo. I heard the creek gurgle over rocks, and I had the motivation to grab an extra dress and run into it. The day was going to be hot, and I knew I would be miserable, hiding under a tree for shade.

After the sun had fully came out, I decided it was light enough to navigate my way through the forest. I found a path, most likely made by deer, and chose a random way to go. Light streamed down like yellow waterfalls. Dust filtered through the beams of light. Mushrooms grew on the side of trees, and made a mental note to come back here and draw my discoveries, just like Meriwether Lewis.

I heard a crack of twigs in front of me, but I payed no attention to it. Just a squirrel, or a passing mouse. I put my hands behind my back in balls, and observed the mushrooms, taking a mental painting of them.

Another crack, this time a bit closer. Still, I didn't turn to investigate, but it was enough to get my senses working. My eyesight sharpened, but I kept my gaze on the mushrooms, pretending to be oblivious to whatever nature was going on behind me.

Finally, the last crack, this time just a few feet away. It made my heart pound in my ears, and out of survival instincts, turn around faster than lightning. I almost shrieked when my eyes met with theirs.

They had dark skin, painted with reds and blacks. He had a sharp face, and teeth bared at me. His eyes darted from me to the mushrooms, like he didn't understand what was so interesting about them. He straightened his posture. He was almost as tall as two of me.

I didn't expect him to know any English, so I didn't take any chances. I darted from the scene, being careful to keep track of where the deer path was. If I didn't follow it, I probably would not be able to find my direction back to the camp.

After what seemed like forever running, I heard some pounding, and a great, breaking sound. I sighed with relief when I saw a tree fall down. Papa was at the other end, ax on his shoulder, scanning the tree with his almost emotionless eyes.

I ran up to him, and he seemed suprised that I was there. "What's wrong, Emily?" He asked, worry suddenly filling his eyes and his voice.

I panted a bit more, then swallowed. "One of the Indians, Papa! I saw one of the Indians! He almost killed me." I shivered.

Papa knelt down to my height, and looked at me straight. "Now, see here, young woman." He said, worriness turning into annoyance. "No Indians are around here, not for miles. There's not even buffalo for them to hunt. So stop stirring up a scare for everyone."

I pursed my lips. "I'm not lying, Papa!" I stomped my foot.

He got up, turned his back towards me, and picked up the end of the tree. It wasn't that big of a tree, but it still seemed heavy. My mind wavered. That was really, really a savaged Indian. He wanted to skin me, for sure.

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