The following is Chapter Thirty-Six of my story about a pair of free black siblings making the journey to California in 1849:
From the Journal of Benjamin Fleming
Chapter Thirty-Six - All Alone
September 4, 1849
A day has passed since the Robbins wagon party parted into two traveling groups. Do I regret my decision to join Mr. Goodwin's act of rebellion? No . . . and yes. A part of me believes I had made the right decision. But another part of me wishes I had remained with the Robbins company. And Alice.
How could she leave me behind? We're brother and sister. Blood. My father would be appalled by our separation. He would be appalled at me for allowing Alice to go against my authority and stay with the Robbins company. But I had no choice. She had refused to join me. And before I could force her to do her duty and accompany me on this journey, that Wendell fellow supported her decision to remain with the Robbins company. My "dear" sister will regret her decision when I reach California before her.
September 7, 1849
Three days have passed since our small party turned north away from the Humboldt River. Our wagon party has encountered a body of water named Antelope or Willow Springs. Unfortunately, it has proven to be unreliable sources of water. Aware of our disappointment, Mr. Goodwin has reassured us that a great source of water awaits us at the Black Rock Spring. He had received a map of the trail, thanks to the mountain man he had encountered back at Fort Hall. Mr. Goodwin also reminded us that our current suffering will pay off with avoiding both the Forty Mile Desert and the Sierra Mountains, along with a shorter journey to California. All of us seemed reassured by his words, except for Lisette. She said nothing, but the doubtful expression in her eyes spoke a thousand words.
I had hoped that Lisette's presence might prove to be satisfying substitution for the lack of Alice's company. Now I have doubts.
September 11, 1849
The Goodwin company encountered another wagon company. Its wagon captain, a lawyer from Ohio named Mercer, had invited us to merge with him. But Mr. Goodwin politely rejected the offer before the rest of us could say anything. I suspected he wanted to remain boss. I had felt tempted to speak up. After all, the Mercer company was at least nine wagons strong. With the addition of our three wagons, we could have made a considerably strong wagon party. Especially as we travel through hostile land without a guide or scout. Alas . . .
September 12, 1849
Our wagon company decamped before the Mercer company could get underway. Mr. Goodwin seemed very determined to reach California as soon as possible. Although I share his feelings to reach the end of our journey as soon as possible, a part of me still wishes we had joined the other wagon company. Between being part of a company that only consists of three wagons and separated from my sister, I am beginning to wonder if I had made a mistake in joining Mr. Goodwin's company. Right now, I feel very much alone, despite Lisette's company.
End of Chapter Thirty-Six