Wednesday, June 27, 2012
"EL DORADO WEST" [PG] - Chapter Twenty-One
The following is Chapter Twenty of my story about a pair of free black siblings making the journey to California in 1849:
Chapter Twenty-One – Independence Rock
June 25, 1849
We finally reached Independence Rock . . . on the Twenty-fifth of June. We are nine days early, much to the disappointment of some. The Palmer brothers had plans for the wagon train to hold a Fourth of July celebration in the shadow of the rock. Alas . . . it did not happen.
The rock itself did not strike me as impressive, in compare to Scott's Bluff or Courthouse Rock. Alice declared that Independence Rock seemed more like a giant mound or hill than an actual mountain. And she did not seem particularly disappointed that we reached Independence Rock a day late. She found the efforts that many emmigrants made to reach this place by July 4th rather childish and ridiculous. She believes that we should be thankful that we have made it this far, reminding me that we have reached the halfway point between Missouri and California. I do wish she had not reminded me that we have another one thousand miles of travel, before we reach our destination.
Mr. Wendell appeared beside our wagon and invited both of us to join a small excursion to the rock. Some of our fellow travelers plan to leave their mark on the impassive wall. I was tempted to reject his offer, when I recalled my decision to have a talk with Mr. Wendell. The Palmers, Mr. Moore and Jonas Goodwin decided to climb upon the rock to make their marks. Alice, Mr. Wendell and I decided to remain on the ground. There was plenty of room. I wonder if historians would ever look back and wonder about the markings left on the rock.
While Alice accompanied the Palmers back to the camp, I led Mr. Wendell to the banks of the nearby Sweetwater River and quietly demanded that he end his "courtship" of my sister. I reminded him that Alice was an inexperienced and innocent young woman who was not used to spending a great deal of time in the outdoors. I also reminded him that the time they had spent alone was a detriment to Alice's reputation as a single woman. For a brief moment, I feared that Mr. Wendell was tempted to toss me into the river. But he merely gave me a long, hard stare and walked away. I followed him and demanded that he agree to keep his distance from Alice. He eventually agreed . . . in a rather brusque manner. Perhaps I should be ashamed of myself, but I do not. I know in my heart that the likes of Elias Wendell was not the right man for someone as refined as Alice.
End of Chapter Twenty-One