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The Pike, Indian Territory, 1868

"Look Elnora!" Samuel's German accent thickened the English words and gave them a musical feel. He pointed to the vast expanse that spread before them. "That's what the English call The Pike. Many are traveling west on this very road."

Elnora peeked out from the wagon. "So, this is Indiana Territory." Her eyes searched the desolate vastness. She giggled. "I see, Samuel. Many are traveling this road."

Samuel swiveled on the driver's seat to look at his wife. He shrugged and a smile played at the corners of his lips. "Perhaps all our fellow travelers have already passed for the day."

"I miss Canada." Heloise Graber kept her voice soft when Elnora turned back toward her. "But not as much as I miss Germany." Heloise patted the back of the baby snuggled down in the cornflower blue quilt Elnora had stitched just for him.

"At only two years of age, your sweet baby Joseph has already crossed an ocean and three countries."

Heloise, the older of the two friends, looked lovingly at her infant son.

Elnora's face fell as her hand fluttered to her still-flat stomach.

Heloise covered Elnora's hand with hers. "Your time to become a mother is coming. God has a special plan for you and Samuel, I can feel it."

Elnora's lower lip trembled. "I must say, at least the weather is more agreeable in Indiana Territory than in Canada. I may pack the extra quilts when we stop to rest." She swiped at a trickle of sweat as it slid down her nose.

"You'll do no such thing!" Heloise placed one long, thin hand on an especially fluffy blue quilt. "It may be a trifle warm but pass those blankets over here. I'll sit on them; they ease the rickety ride."

The women dissolved into a sea of girlish giggles.

"Yours are the softest quilts of anyone else's in the village."

"Take them with you when we swap wagons," Elnora offered her fiery-tressed friend.

Heloise shook her head. The straps on her black head covering flailed about her shoulders. "It's not the same," she insisted. "Part of what makes Elnora Stoll's quilts so soft is the wonderful company that comes along with them."

Samuel's quick yank on the horse reins interrupted Heloise's compliment.

"Lucas, is that what I think it is?" Samuel's voice grew higher as he called to Heloise's husband in the next wagon.

The two women stared at one another, their eyes wide.

"Ja!" Lucas answered. "Ja, it is."

Before Elnora could pull herself up to see the cause of the commotion, Samuel was off the driver's seat. She peeked out to see the menfolk piling out of all the wagons. Lucas was even with Samuel, holding his hat on with one hand and pumping the air with the other. Simon Wagler, Sarah's husband, stumbled as he ran, fumbling with the black braces that looped over his shoulders and held up his britches. On their wagon seat, Sarah nuzzled their infant Elijah, who'd let out a shriek with the sudden stop.

Isaac Raber pulled on his broad-brimmed hat as Jeremiah Knepp, Simeon Odon, and Abraham Yoder pulled their wagons to a halt in a haphazard line. In an instant, all the men of the families who'd come so far together were running toward the remnants of an overturned English wagon.

Pieces of the torn canvas fluttered in a passing breeze and the box itself lay on its side,

Elnora drew a fist to her mouth. "Did it roll off The Pike?"

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⏰ Last updated: Mar 17, 2019 ⏰

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