The following is Chapter Thirty-Eight of my story about a pair of free black siblings making the journey to California in 1849:
Chapter Thirty-Eight - Desertion
September 23, 1849
The company arrived at Black Rock Springs and experienced our first moment of good luck since breaking away from the old company. The area provided plenty of water and grass for our stock. Both Mr. Palmer and I managed to shoot a few jackrabbits. Being the only woman in the company, she prepared a stew from our game. I got the feeling that she was not particularly pleased being designated the company's sole cook. Why she is upset, I do not know. She is a woman. Naturally, she should be the one to cook for the rest of us.
September 24, 1849
Unlike Black Rock Springs, Double Hot Springs was not as lucky for the company. The spring waters were hot and difficult to touch. If it were not for the water we had collected at Black Rock Springs, the company would be in a great deal of trouble. Also, the hot spring waters made it difficult for the stock. By the end of the day, both Lisette and I were exhausted from keeping the mules and my horse under control.
The company ate more of Lisette's rabbit stew. To be honest, she merely reheated what she had prepared yesterday. Mr. Bryant had expected fresh food and said so. Lisette remained silent. However, she shot him a few ugly glances that did not bode well. Another company - that which is led by the Ohioan Mercer - camped several feet away from ours. Mr. Bryant considered asking for extra food from them, but Mr. Goodwin nipped that idea in the bud. Much to my disappointment.
September 28, 1849
I have never felt so happy when the company reached High Canyon Rock. My fellow travelers and I spent the last few days travailing through desert land, dotted by hot and cold spring waters. Trying to determine which spring was safe to drink or bathe from has proven to be rather exhausting. The dark, high rocks that semi-surrounds the company's camp resembled a small citadel in the desert.
We had lost sight of the Mercer camp two days ago, during the journey between Double Hot Springs and High Canyon Rock. But the other wagon company managed to catch up with us, much to my surprise. Mr. Bryant and Mr. Goodwin managed to bag a pair of quail. Naturally, it was left up to Lisette to prepare the birds. Once again, she did so with ill humor.
Following supper, Lisette argued over her role as the company's cook. She demanded money for her "services" as the company's cook or she will refuse to prepare our meals for the rest of the journey to California. I promised to speak to Mr. Goodwin about the matter. But I knew it was a waste of time. I knew he would kick her out of the company if she refuse to continue serving as our cook.
September 29, 1849
I woke this morning to discover that Lisette had left my wagon and the company. She has joined the Mercer company. First Alice and now Lisette. What am I supposed to do now?
End of Chapter Thirty-Eight