Saturday, May 19, 2012
"EL DORADO WEST" [PG] - Chapter Twenty
The following is Chapter Twenty of my story about a pair of free black siblings making the journey to California in 1849:
From the Journal of Benjamin Fleming
Chapter Twenty – A Disgruntled Emmigrant
June 24, 1849
I am beginning to feel that this trip to California might be a mistake. A serious mistake. Alice and I have been on the road for nearly four months. Four long months. And Mr. James informed me that it should take us another two-and-a-half months to reach the Sacramento Valley in California. Ten weeks! I do not know if I can endure another ten weeks of this journey.
A part of me wishes that our wagon party had remained at Fort Laramie for another week or so. The Army fort was a bastion of comfort in compare to places like Fort Kearny and Ash Hollow. We had comfort, decent food and the U.S. Army for security. And this morning, our train has been cast back into the wilderness. God only knows what new dangers await us.
Contrary to our hopes, we have traveled beyond the reaches of the cholera epidemic. Not long after the train halted for the noon break, we learned that one of the Gibson children came down with the sickness. The child may have came down with the disease sometime during our stay at Laramie. Mr. James ordered the Gibsons to maintain their distance from the main camp. They will have to remain there until we are sure that the disease has not spread. Back at Laramie, Mr. Robbins had learned that an entire native village located somewhere northwest of the fort was wiped out by the cholera. Something tells me that the other tribes will blame the Americans now crossing the Plains in droves. And they are bound to take it out on us.
Digging for gold is no longer my main reason for reaching California as soon as possible. That reason has now become one Mr. Elias Wendell. That man has been a thorn in my side the moment he began paying attention to Alice. My sister is an educated and refined young woman. The last person she needs as a husband is some illiterate ex-slave-turned backwoodsman. How dare he presume to pay court to my sister? Father would have turned him out of the house in a snap. And if Alice truly needed a husband, she would have remained in Cleveland. With me to protect her here on the Plains and in California, she does not need a husband. The time has arrived for me to have a talk with Mr. Wendell.
End of Chapter Twenty