Update: Added more Amazon X-ray data for my book, The Navigators

Added 36 new definitions and explanations to the X_Ray feature for kindle books.

Also I am working on the final book of the Pathfinders Trilogy. I’m running a bit behind my anticipated schedule due to a couple surgeries last winter. Nothing really major but extremely distracting. (a cataract that was aggravated by an inflammation that just wouldn’t quit…)

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The Tale of Keoonik, a campfire tale…

It’s been a while as I have been busy catching up somethings around the house after having cataract surgery. Here’s a yarn that has been itching to get out for a while now. Enjoy!

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Enoch Hapgood was spending some time at his “new” land on St. Sophia’s Lake, the third of the Connecticut lakes in the far north of New Hampshire. His old friend Jean LeCleric had invited him to mark out some land on the lake next to his for the past few years. Good fences made good neighbors, but good friends made the best neighbors.

When his wife died of pneumonia last winter, Enoch decided that it was time to take on a new project. The family was grown up and self-sufficient so there was nothing holding him back. At fifty-eight years of age Enoch was still in good enough condition to be up to this challenge. He also had four sons that could help if needed.

Jean had claimed his land here back in the early seventeen-sixties when he set up his trading post on his smuggler’s trace to Canada, when he was running furs north and trade goods south both before and during the American revolt against British rule.  The years had been good to Jean LeCleric. He had land in Cockburn Town where he had established a trading post upon land that Enoch had given him. He had a home and commercial offices in Sherbrooke, Quebec and of course, his extensive holdings in the Connecticut Lakes region.

Since then two different land companies had supposedly bought the same land from two different Indian chiefs, in spite of the new government’s prohibition on making such purchases. And to top it all off both the United States and Canada were in disagreement as to where exactly the border was. It was as big a mess as only a government could create thought Enoch disgustedly.

In any event Enoch and Jean had spent an afternoon marking boundary trees around the south shore of the lake to enclose about twenty-five acres on both sides of the stream that led to the second lake of the chain. The land was rich and there were a couple of beaver meadows where in the past the natives had planted their crops of corn, beans, and squash. The land had a good southern exposure and deer were common. A man could live comfortably here without working too hard.

Besides Jean, his only neighbor was an old Indian woman who had an elm bark lodge to the west of Enoch’s boundary.  They had been careful not encroach on her living area when they were marking the property line. Jean said she was a good woman, but maybe a bit crazy. Other Indians in the area seemed to respect her and often visited her but none ever stayed. She seemed to be a loner by nature and Enoch understood that.

The first deer Enoch took, he carried to the old woman’s lodge at Jean’s suggestion, He explained that he needed help with the deer as it would go bad if it wasn’t eaten soon. The old woman, Keoonik, or Otter, told him to leave the deer and she would dry the meat and make pemmican too. She would keep half if the good man was willing. Enoch nodded and smiled. Now he understood the visitors and why Jean said she was a good neighbor.

As the summer progressed Enoch spent most of his time building a small cabin. He did not plan on wintering there as he was expected back in Cockburn Town to spend Christmas with his family. He often took small game to Otter’s Lodge to share a meal and converse. Her husband had died several years before and they found they both enjoyed having company and someone to talk with.

She was a wise woman and remembered many of the old ways and stories of her people. As they became better acquainted she told him what she knew of the old times, before the white men first came down from Canada or up from the Great Water. From his days as a Ranger he had learned basic Abenaki and she taught him more through the stories and myths of her people.

One day in early fall, when he had stopped by to share a turkey, she asked him if he knew the greatest possession that warrior had. He thought for a moment and replied, “His tomahawk.”

She smiled in a way that told him he had missed the right answer. So, he continued, “With a tomahawk a warrior can kill an enemy, blaze a trail, build a snare for a rabbit, or build a shelter.”

Again, she smiled.  This time shaking her head. “You still think like the white men, to you possessing always means material things, land, weapons, trade goods… The greatest possession for a warrior is his passion. His passion lets him accomplish anything he truly desires. His passion braces his will, and for a warrior his will is his greatest strength. His love for his home and his family become tools to fulfill his desires.  A true warrior can even defeat Death himself on his way to the happier lands.

“Back in the time of many deaths when unknown diseases were killing whole villages, even tribes, many lost their passion in the griefs and agonies of those dreadful times. So, when the white men came they found a broken people, confused disheartened and easily conquered.”

Enoch nodded, but, they spent the rest of the meal in silence.

Two days later, as Enoch was finishing his roof, four strangers arrived. They ordered him down from his roof and told him that they represented Bedel’s Land Company and they were charging him with illegal possession of Bedel’s land. He was under arrest and they were taking him to Lancaster to face trial.

Enoch tried explaining that he had the land from Jean LeCleric. They replied that the Courts didn’t recognize any Frenchman’s claims and that he would be charged convicted and pay a substantial fine. And after that he could buy the land from Bedel’s if he wanted to return.

They tied Enoch’s hands behind his back and looped a noose around his neck and headed South along the river headed for Lancaster. Enoch was mad but he knew the situation would change if they took him through Cockburn Town, which they would certainly have to, and the Judge in Lancaster who he was well acquainted with, would not put up with this foolishness. He also knew that saying so would probably get him killed so he would go along with this, knowing that it would not end well for these thugs.

They were down by Second Lake when they caught up to old Otter, plodding down the trail with a birch bark bucket of fresh blueberries.

“Well, looky here, we got us a squaw to cook our meals on the trail and warm us at night!”

“No, I go to meet my husband, I cook his meals and warm his bed not yours.  He will not like you saying these things!”

The leader backhanded Otter, knocking her to the ground. “Well tonight you are stirring our pot and the next couple nights too old woman. Now no more of your sass, or, it will be much pain for you. Understand?”

“I cook”, said Otter, with down cast eyes.

“Well, looks to be time to start setting camp. Tie the prisoner to that oak tree you two. You gather some fire wood for the night fire and old woman you start a cook fire to heat up some pemmican…”

Enoch watched Otter start to stir the Pemmican in a pot over the fire. As he watched he saw her glance at him as she turned her wrist to show him a handful of mushrooms which she dropped in the pot and stirred them in vigorously. She glanced at him again and shook her head. Enoch decided that he wasn’t going to be hungry that night.

Twenty minutes after the four “officials” finished eating they all became violently ill and passed out. Otter took a knife and cut Enoch free.

“They burned my lodge this morning. I followed them and saw them take you away. I ran over the hill to get ahead of them. They will sleep for a long time and have very bad dreams. I think they will not be back.”

Enoch thanked her and opened up a pack and threw the papers and records into the fire. “Is that the way to break white man’s magic?”

Enoch smiled and nodded, “It will do…”

Otter then began rubbing pemmican into the sleeping men’s hair and beards. “I think these men are going to have a very bad nightmare this night.”

Enoch nodded. It was fall and the bears were starting to fatten up for the long winter’s sleep. There would be no need to worry about hiding the bodies…

“We must go our separate ways here. I go to be with my family this winter. Maybe I see you after next spring. Be well, Enoch Hapgood. You have been kind to this old woman.”

“I’ll see you next summer Otter. Have a good winter my friend.”

Otter smiled sadly and went down the trail to the south, under the light of a full moon  and Enoch headed north to his cabin. After sleeping half the morning, he decided to go see if he could do anything with Otter’s lodge. When he got there, the lodge was indeed burned to the ground. And he found Otter, with day old dried blood, laying on the ground…

 

Copyright, David Hawkins 2019

The Ranger’s Tale

This is an expanded version of my Lost Nation tales. This is an expanded edition and the Kindle version will be set up for a free promotion day tomorrow, January 6. This will be followed sometime next week with the release of a large print edition in softcover. This book as also available on Kindle Unlimited to read for free or it may be purchased for $0.99… The paperback version will be available for $8.49.

History has always fascinated me. Not the history of dates and upheavals that get covered in the History Books. But the lives of the people that actually lived that history. History books never seem interested in the day to day lives of average people doing the things people do.

For instance, my Grandfather, born in 1895, told us kids about the first electric lightbulb he ever saw, or the first time he heard a radio or witnessed an automobile.  I will never forget the amazement on his face when we landed men on the moon.  And then there was the time on a nice spring day when he didn’t want to spend the day in school…

He was trapping skunks at the time for pocket money.  There was a bounty paid for skunks at that time, so he caught a live one by “tailing it” as he put it, which involved quickly picking it up by the tail so it couldn’t spray him. He then released the skunk in the school’s unused heating ducts… Trust me! That bit of history caught my ten-year old attention!

So, this book is set up as an oral history, covering the things that get discussed around a campfire or similar in a similar setting. Most relate to how people did things before radios and electric lights. Some are about bad men who prowled the night, and what common people did to survive.

My goal in writing this tale is to relate what life was like for the early settlers in the area known locally and variously as Coos County or more broadly just “north of the notches.  The “Notches” being Franconia Notch and Crawford Notch which provided the easiest passages for the early settlers through the White Mountains surrounding Mt. Washington.  The other route into the North Country was up the Connecticut River. That was a very different river than the one we know today with all it’s flood control dams and submerged falls and rapids.

It is hard to imagine what the forests were like in the later 1700’s when this area was first settled. They were certainly very unlike what we see today.   Contrary to popular perception the general area is much more forested today than it was at that time.  For one thing there were more mature hardwoods growing back then.  Especially nut trees such as oaks, beechnuts and butternuts, (often called White Walnuts.  The Indians actually planted nut trees as a food source.  They even had developed methods to make Acorn and Beechnut meal palatable.

There was a high beaver population at that time, which was largely responsible for the extensive system of meadows along most streams and smaller rivers. The first settlers called these areas as well as the flood plains of the Connecticut River the Coos intervals. Over time, the beaver dams filled in with sediment and rich productive land was developed.

The original inhabitants naturally took advantage of these open areas to co-plant corn, beans and squashes, just as the Indians taught them. The beans climbed the corn and the squashes provided weed control on the ground.  This tended to be common practice throughout the Appalachian area and beyond.

They also burned over these fields to enrich them and reduce the invasive brush which, if left to grow would quickly turn into forest. The Indians had a vested interest in keeping the land open. Not only for corn production but to attract the white-tailed deer, which is a border lands forager. Deer need open fields for summer feeding and young hardwood browse as a winter food supply. Without both, the deer cannot survive to provide protein for those in need.  The beaver ponds also attracted the moose which is not dependent on open fields for grazing, but does need ponds and marshes where they feed on aquatic plants during the summer months.

The other native species that helped keep the land rich and clear were the passenger pigeons.  Huge flocks of these pigeons darkened the sky, they roosted in trees, often weighed down the trees so heavily that they broke branches. Also, the massive flocks produced a byproduct that contained so much nitrogen that it literally killed the ground cover.  A flock passing overhead could entirely cover the ground to a depth of a half inch or more, over hundreds of square miles with bird droppings when they passed.

Now that we don’t have passenger pigeons and beaver are considered a pest by many, the forests have grown to claim more land than was ever forest in the late 1700’s. Deer and moose populations have altered to fit the “new” environment, (less deer, more moose).

The Indian population, already in deep decline ever since Columbus brought measles, small-pox, and influenza from Europe. The Indians who had very little to no natural resistance, were no longer available to keep the open areas open and the forest was in the process of taking over.  In the almost 300 years since the Europeans arrived, mortality from these foreign diseases had caused a decline of eighty to ninety-five percent in the Native American population. In some areas the devastation was total.

This explains why the Indian chiefs were so willing to make alliances with the invaders from across the sea. They neither liked nor trusted these hairy faced strangers. The major tribes were in a state of near constant warfare amongst themselves.  They no longer had the ability to keep the land open and productive due to a lack of population resources. It should be kept in mind that at that time no one understood how diseases spread or how to stop them once they started. Neither the Europeans or the Native Americans knew what we know today. The Europeans had no concept that they had spent hundreds of years developing resistance to these diseases and once the contagions had spread away from the coasts the Indians, who had wide spread networks of commerce, had no chance of stopping the spreading wave of death.

The native population had, in many ways, the superior technology for survival. Bows and arrows functioned in all-weather unlike the inaccurate and slow firing muskets of the Europeans. They were silent, didn’t disturb the game animals and didn’t require dry gunpowder, flints, or lead balls.  True they never developed the wheel, but then they had no horses or oxen to pull wheeled carts.  They had developed maize, (corn), through hybridization, as a staple food that was far more efficient than the European grains for feeding large populations.

Consider that corn is not self-seeding, unless someone removes the husks, it rots on the cob.  Corn was not an accidental discovery.  It was developed by the Native Americans in Central America and spread outwards all through the Americas. See Charles C. Manns excellent book “1491” for much more information on this topic. I truly wish this book had been available when I was majoring in History in College back in the ‘70’s. It explains so much of what my wife and I observed throughout the Yucatan, Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize when we were researching the Mayans in the ‘90’s.

Another major influence on this story was my Grandfather, Neal Farnsworth, (born in 1895).  He gave me hands-on lessons in using one and two-man saws, axes, broad axes, spuds and froes to fall trees and convert them to useful materials for building and heating both. Trust me, getting out ten cords of firewood with a hand buck, splitting axe, wedges and a sledge hammer has given me a sense of sincere gratitude for 40 lb. bags of pellets as a home heating fuel!  Even burning pellets, I have learned the wisdom which he taught me on buying wood heating fuel… “If you are buying by volume, buy hardwoods, If you are buying by weight, buy softwoods.”  As true today as it was back in the day…

This brief tale is intended as a prequel to a larger volume that I am currently planning to write on the Indian Stream Republic, a short lived Constitutional Republic which the residents carved out of the Northern most section of New Hampshire where both the United States and Canada had claims based on the various settlers having bought the same land from two different Indian chiefs…

You will probably note several areas in this story that modern people find objectionable. As an historian I believe it is not only proper, but responsible to relate those attitudes without passing moral judgement on them. One cannot understand history properly while using moral judgements that did not exist at that time.  To do so is to commit the historian’s sin of “Presentism”.

For instance, today we consider taking the law into our own hands to be a great wrong. In the wilderness of the 1700’s, it was the expected thing to do.  There really were no other realistic options. In short, how can we say that today is so much better without having an accurate yardstick to judge our progress against. This is how we truly learn from having an honest history.

Another, more extreme example, Columbus and Small Pox.  There were more Indians living in the Americas than existed in all of Europe at that time. They had larger cities, better mathematics, and better agricultural practices.  Yet the Europeans unknowingly released what amounted to an extinction level event in the Americas. It was probably the single greatest human tragedy to ever occur. To call it genocide is to completely ignore the facts of what occurred.  The Europeans knew only that Small Pox and the other diseases had been the scourge of Europe.  To hold the European explorers responsible for the Indians lack of any immunity is to ignore the real lesson of history.

Any exchange of resources between cultures can have dire unintended consequences.  Other exchanges which luckily have not been as horrific, such as the Spanish Flu, the Dutch Elm disease, Japanese Beetles, Kudzu, and so many other invasions still occur.  There is even solid evidence that introducing Maize, (corn), into Africa was responsible for increasing the population to the point that African Chiefs accepted the slave trade as a viable recourse to thin out excess population.

Yet people still attempt to smuggle birds, reptiles and exotic pets, any of which could start a whole new and unexpected plague in areas that have no natural immunity. This is why playing the “blame game” through presentism is not high on any Historian’s agenda.

In summary, this is a work of fiction, and I trust my readers to make their own decisions on the subject of morality. My only goal is to present the times as they actually existed so that the important lessons of history may be preserved and not forgotten.

Links to countries where I have had sales. (Thank you all!)

The Ranger’s Tale, US version 

The Ranger’s Tale UK version

The Ranger’s Tale, Canadian version

The Ranger’s Tale, Australian version

The Ranger’s Tale, India version (in English)

The Ranger’s Tale, Brazilian version (in English)

The Ranger’s Tale, Japanese version (in English)

The Ranger’s Tale, German version, (in English)

The Ranger’s Tale, French version, (in English)

The Ranger’s Tale, Netherlands version, (in English)

 

 

Special Offer, UK only, Reduced price on Kindle Edition of The Navigators

Amazon is letting me offer a reduced price for Christmas week of £0.99 (VAT included) Sunday the 23rd to Sunday the 30th. After this week the price goes back up to £2.31. So, here is you chance to get the best price of the year.

The story is based about a hundred years in the future about a group of recent graduates who enroll in the Space Authority’s training program to become qualified Spacers. The class is an eclectic group from all around the world. Randal Stewart, who wants to be a design engineer, Baljit Singh, a Sikh navigator to be, Siobahn Caruso, a computer whiz/white hat hacker, Umra Mailu, a Kenyan Marine candidate, Art Simmonds, a California Surfer/adventurer, and Hanna Dunstan who wants to join the Navy. And of course there is Mathias Weber, who can’t seem to help being a real prick, complete with an Admiral for an Uncle….

Things are going well until an encounter with pirates sets the stage for the rest of the story. Beyond that… no spoilers! Click the link below to open up more information in a separate tab/window. Enjoy!

The Navigators, by Dave Hawkins 

Ex Post Facto Traps and Writing Fiction

Ex Post Facto is a concept commonly associated with laws. Literally, it translates from the Latin as “From a thing done before.” Legally it means that you can’t be tried for doing something that was legal when you did it, but subsequent laws have made the act illegal. The framers of the US Constitution felt that this principle was so important that they enshrined it in the Constitution twice. Once for federal laws and again for state laws.

When I was in college studying to be a History teacher, a professor assigned a paper on Ex Post Facto Morality. He was demonstrating that when we look at historical events, our natural instinct is to color what we see based on today’s morality. Which is acceptable if we are comparing where our culture is today for defining a metric of cultural progress. However, if we are attempting to learn about the causative events leading up to major social changes, then that modern perspective will lead us to invalid conclusions about why things happened.

Things always happen for a reason. As writers, we try to be aware of this when we are defining our virtual environments. We want our readers to suspend their disbelief and “buy” into our created world view. This holds true for every sort of fiction, be it a tale of ancient Egypt or, a star ship from three-thousand years in the future. If we can get our readers to immerse themselves in our fictional world with all its sights, sounds, smells, and emotional roller coasters then we have given them a gift that they can value and, perchance, return to for more sequels…

My, admittedly limited experience, has been that doing an introduction to your world conditions right up front is not a successful way of involving the reader. It’s about as exciting as what the neighbors dog did on your lawn. You’ve got just a few paragraphs to catch their attention and you don’t want them glancing out the window to see what their neighbor’s dog is up to in real life.

This is what makes short stories so tough, you have a really restricted number of words to build your world and populate it with believable characters and actions. Bob Shaw’s classic sci fi short story, Light of Other Days, is a superb example of getting things right in a short story. A brief, one sentence lead paragraph sets the environment and baits the hook to encourage the reader to keep reading. “Leaving the village behind, we followed the heady sweeps of the road up into the land of slow glass.”

Whats all this got to do with Ex Post Facto? It’s an example of how to introduce a reasoned world that is simple yet different.  I think most of us have taken a ride in the country at some point, so, this world starts out with a familiar event we can all relate to, but just what is “slow glass”? As the story progresses, we learn much more, because we want to. Slow glass is established as part of the environment we just don’t know a thing about it and now we are curious. The familiar pairs with the exotic and we are already building a world based on these concepts that we are willing to let the author color in as best he or she can.

Longer works allow us the space to accomplish much more intricate world building.  Still, we can only do it one block at a time, just as with any foundation. Consider a story about colonial America. You could, for example, tell your readers that people generally smelled bad and had pants rabbits, (fleas), because they only took a bath every six months or so. Which leaves you with a big “yuck factor” and everyone going “ewww… how could they live like that!”  They are already coloring conditions by current standards. Or, you could drop some hints that people had no running water and hot water for washing and bathing was a rare luxury, and trust that people can fill in the blanks.Yuck factors rarely sell stories…

If you create a simple outline of your story can tell you what minimum  information you need to establish to create your world. For instance, knowing what is in short supply lets you establish a believable background without asking your readers to strain their imaginations or sound like you are teaching them in grade school.  This is fiction, it’s supposed to be enjoyable! And first rule of good fiction is “Show, don’t tell!”  And don’t set up Ex post facto traps for your readers, make sure you have given them the information they need before they need it. Readers hate to feel that they have been set up for something that makes them feel ignorant or, worse, stupid. Every story needs a little mystery to keep people engaged, just don’t leave them frustrated or confused.

Tales from the Indian Stream Republic; Land Grant

Chapter 3 of the Tales of the Indian Stream  Republic

Loosely based on facts and locations, totally composed of fiction…

In 1763 Enoch Hapgood married Adele Somersworth of Concord New Hampshire soon after returning home from the Western frontier. He was working as a foreman for his father’s sawmill, which was a good trade.

One night his father mentioned at supper that the Viscount of Preston, a Scottish lord, was looking for someone to build and operate a sawmill in a township in the upper Connecticut river valley. Having a sawmill would serve to attract settlers, provide jobs, and in general provide the basis for a local economy. The offer included five-hundred acres more or less, of prime land free and clear. His land would be on the Southern border of the Preston Grant with the Connecticut River as his western boundary. His eastern property line would extend from the intersection of the North branch of the brook due South to the border of Woodbury Grant and west to the Connecticut River.

After some discussion after supper it was decided that Enoch should take the deal. Adele was fully supportive; most land deals included just forty acres with an annual quitrent fee.  To own that much land without rental fee was too good a deal to pass up.

At that time all land under the British flag belonged to the King or Queen of England.  It was His, or Hers, to dispose of as He or She saw fit. A grant of land, in the form of a Royal Charter, could be made to a loyal and trusted member of the royal court, or, more often it was sold to some individual or company to enrich the Royal treasury.

The British colonization of America followed this model that had been in place for at least a thousand years. It was also a carryover from the Romans, and in Briton, the Anglo-Saxons. The Charter holders then, acting in the name of the crown doled out land to the serfs, (quitrents) or Yeomen, (freeholders). The Crown reserved the right to govern the lands through Royal Governors who could call on the Army and Navy for support.

The royal House also reserved the right to tax whatever it wished to raise funds for the common defense and other costs of governing the lands.

Enoch knew many of the other settlers from his days with the Rangers.  They had passed through just south of Preston’s grant on their way home from St. Francis. They had in fact made camp at Fort Wentworth at Stonington NH at the confluence of the Connecticut River and the Upper Ammonoosuc River.  Unfortunately. at that time the fort had been abandoned for the winter. They had made camp there while a small party traveled to Fort Number Four at Charleston, NH to summon a relief party. There was no doubt that they could defend themselves from the few Indians left in the region. The land was rich and the forests were a good mix of hardwoods and softwoods.

Adele agreed for the first year she would stay with the Hapgood family in Concord, as she was with child. Enoch would go ahead to build a small cabin and spend the winter setting their new home and business in order.  Enoch, his brother, Sam, and two other men from the Concord area set out on the first of May 1763. Each of the other two men had two oxen, and wagons loaded with hardware and supplies. They would also be preparing the way for their families. Former Rangers all, they had no illusions that this would be an easy undertaking.

Following the Pemigewasset River north to the pass through the mountains at Franconia they joined up with a large party led by David Page Jr. and Emmons Stockwell, who were to settle the new grant of Lancaster, on the Connecticut River.  If he hadn’t already accepted rights to five hundred acres in Preston’s Grant, about forty miles travel to the north Enoch would have been quite happy accepting the invitation to settle in Lancaster. It was reassuring to know that a well-organized town was being set up within a couple days travel.

On the sixth of June they arrived in Preston’s Grant.  As promised, his holding included land on the Connecticut River with a stream in a narrow valley running back into the imposing mountains beyond. Enoch and Sam spent another week walking his homestead, searching out a proper site for his future home and sawmill.

Plenty of good foundation stone for the mill would come from the brook without too much trouble. Flooding would be a problem, but with care, not a big one. The cabin would go to the north side of the brook in a stand of Maple where it would receive the benefit of the winter sun and have nice cool shade during the summer.

It would be a small cabin, twelve by twelve, one door and one window both on the south wall to provide light during the day. The walls would only be seven feet high so that it would be easy to heat.

A fireplace on the west end and a shed in the back for the oxen to shelter in with a canvas covered hayrack to supplement the grain he had hauled from Concord.  For this year a packed earth floor would have to do. He’d lived with far worse serving with the Rangers.

They spent the summer putting up walls, cutting and splitting firewood and gathering hay from the floodplain by the river, splitting shingles for his roof, and helping his neighbors when needed.

Mosquitoes and biting flies were bad near the brook but his building site was high enough that the breezes kept the bugs away. He also found a patch of sweet fern that he could rub on the bug bites to get rid of the itch.

By early September 1763, they were ready to raise the roof which just about everybody in Preston’s Grant got together for. Once he had a roof in place they began packing clay mixed with sand and straw into the gaps between the logs of the wall.

Enoch also made a deal with Bradford Johnson, one of the first settlers, who was a stone mason to build his fireplace and chimney. He would be owing some sawmill production when he was up and running but that was a fair exchange of labor.

With the fall they also spent time hunting. They took two deer and a moose, and again worked a deal with a neighbor, trading the larger deer to have the moose and smaller deer, brined and smoked for his winter’s meat supply.

Once snow was on the ground and the bears were in their dens for the winter Enoch took another deer for fresh meat to add some variety to their meals. Venison was not rich in fat but there was enough to make a supply of pemmican. Root vegetables and wild sour apples would provide the rest of their diet for the winter.

With winter came time to start building up his supply of logs to turn into lumber. Winter cut trees had less sap in the wood so the lumber would dry quicker and with less splitting. None of the harvested trees would go to waste. What wasn’t usable for making lumber would make fine firewood. Once his own needs were met it gave him a tradeable commodity to stock up with.

By March they had piles of pine, tamarack, birch, black locust, elm, and maple logs plus all his next years firewood. Once the frost started to leave the ground they put the oxen to work pulling stumps to make a garden plot. The stumps themselves were arranged around the plot making a serviceable fence and the plot itself was well turned over by the oxens’ hooves as they strained to pull the stumps. Every day they added a wagon full of the winter’s manure to the garden plot. They planted Indian style; corn, with beans to climb the corn and squash and pumpkins as ground cover to keep the weeds down.

By mid-May 1764 the trails were dry enough that Enoch lent his brother and the pair of oxen to the stone mason who agreed to cancel some of his debt for a month’s labor. Enoch packed his trail pack and headed for Concord on foot. He stopped in Lancaster a day later, and spent a night there in exchange for carrying some letters back to Concord.  Traveling fast and light as he had learned to do as a ranger, a week later his  wife introduced him to his new son, William, who was six months old.

 

Sic Semper Fures

This is the second chapter of my Indian Stream Republic tales. On an historical note, The Indian Stream Republic was a short lived Republic that broke away from New Hampshire in the 1800’s.  The first post can be found here… The beginning of the Indian Stream Republic tales

 

Enoch Hapgood  decided to follow the north shore of Lake Erie instead of making the much longer, if safer trip along the southern shore, to Fort Niagara.  When he left Fort Detroit he had fifteen pounds of blueberry pemmican, five pounds of smoked venison jerky, five pounds of musket balls, (eighty-four, .69 caliber balls), two pounds of gunpowder, his bullet mold for casting more bullets, a bayonet, ten extra flints for his musket, his Ranger’s hatchet, and of course his Brown Bess firelock musket.

He as also carrying just over six pounds of various gold and silver coins. He had sold off the plunder he had collected from the sacking of Detroit. The plunder was too bulky to carry conveniently and he’d taken a loss on the sale. He would still be a wealthy man if he got it all home and it was much safer to travel light and not appear to be too well off. That sort of attention got people killed in the wilderness.

He also had his blanket roll, a small sheet of canvas for a shelter, fifty feet of rope, a wooden canteen, and an extra pair of moccasins which he knew he would need before reaching Concord. All told, he was carrying just over fifty pounds of necessaries. He planned on buying another fifteen pounds of pemmican at either Fort Niagara or Fort Oswego in New York territory depending on how fast he was able to travel. He never knew what to expect beside trouble on the trail.

He traveled at a quick trot when the trail was good, which was standard for a Ranger. Following the lake shore, Enoch kept it in sight but never traveled near the lake itself as was good Ranger practice. There was no sense in limiting your escape options if you were surprised.

He reached the Niagara river in just six days. There he got lucky and met a British Army patrol. His Ranger uniform convinced them he was a messenger, which got him a free boat ride across the river along with instructions for the best trail to Fort Oswego. Another hard three days to the east.

When he came in sight of Fort Oswego he circled back off the trail until he found a stand of tall slim spruce trees about twenty-five feet tall. Selecting one, he climbed up to near the top and tied his rope to it. Once back on the ground he located a fallen tree and ran the rope under it. then he pulled the top of the spruce down and tied it off to the log.

Making a sack out of his canvas containing most of his coins, supplies and a fifty-pound stone to help make it easier to pull the sack down again. He tied the sack to the tree top with a quick release knot then unhitched the rope and let the tree lift the sack back up so it was hidden in the tree tops of the spruce stand. Rangers often cached food supplies like this in bear country as bears liked pemmican as much as Rangers did and could smell it over great distances.

He made camp there that night and headed into the trading post at the fort the next morning. The trading post was a busy place, with a large inventory of trade goods. Beside fifteen pounds of pemmican, Enoch picked up another pair of bear hide moccasins, some hardtack, and a bar of lead for making bullets, and some British East India company tea.

He also looked over some new wool blankets that the East India company was using as trade goods for furs. White wool with four colored stripes. The trader explained that they were called Hudson’s Bay blankets and came in various sizes, 2.5, 3, 3.5, and 4 points. The four-point blankets were big enough for a standard marriage bed.

Enoch shook his head, they were really nice blankets but he was on the trail and they were just too bulky to travel well.  If the East India company was selling them they would be available back home too.  He could tell that they were a popular item as the trader didn’t push too hard or offer any discounts to sweeten the deal. Enoch settled his bill and shouldered his rucksack once outside the3 door. As he was leaving the fort he noticed another traveler following him and paused.

“Where you headed pilgrim?” the other man asked.

“King’s business,” Enoch replied.

“Westing?”

“Niagara in two days-time.”

“Want some company? Headed that way myself.”

Enoch shrugged. “Free trail if you keep up. I’ll not be wasting time waiting on any man. His Highness is depending on me, my Captain said.”

The other man snorted and chuckled, lead on then.”

“You’ve a name I suppose?”

“People call me Percy.”

“Enoch.” ‘Purse-y more like…this one is not a good man, even smells sour.’ Enoch started double timing back toward his camp.

“Damn, what is your rush Enoch?”

“Told you, Fort Niagara in two days.  Keep up or follow, your choice.”

“Guess I’ll follow, I ain’t in that kind of hurry!”

“Good then.” And Enoch picked up his pace.  He passed the turn off to his camp, moving fast. He soon came to a stream crossing the trail, pulled off his moccasins and stepping rock to rock moved up-stream for a hundred paces before cutting back toward his stand of spruces. Slipping his moccasins back on he moved with a ranger’s stealth, slowly moving from tree to tree to pause and listen.

He heard ‘Percy’ come up to the stream and pass beyond it before returning and following down stream slowly looking for sign. Deciding he had time to get to camp and with a little luck retrieve his travel gear and arrange a surprise for any intruder…

Enoch was pulling his rope to lower his stash when he heard…

“Well what have we here Enoch?”

Turning to his right, Enoch saw Percy approaching with a double-barreled pistol pointed in his direction.  “Nothing that concerns you, I’m sure. Just let me tie this off and we’ll discuss that if you want to.”

“I think not. You just keep hold of that rope with both hands, while I take a look-see what’s in that sack,” replied Percy, as he reached to pull the loose end of the quick release knot.  He let his eye follow the sack to the ground and Enoch twisted backwards he flipped the coiled tangle of rope around Percy’s neck and released the rope holding the sapling down.

The pistol discharged as Percy reacted to the unexpected move as he was suddenly jerked off his feet to the sound of a loud “pop” as his neck broke in the tangle of rope.

“Like I said ‘Purse-y’ there’s nothing here that concerned you,” muttered Enoch, as he remembered a Latin phrase from school… ‘Sic Semper Fures… Thus, always to thieves.  Guess I better stop at the trading post and pick up some fresh rope. Might even buy one of those nice blankets too…

 

3 Free book giveaways through Amazon

2 different kindle e-books and 1 Large Print Paperback edition of my Campfire tales (free shipping included)

  1.  (1 copy remaining as of now) The Navigators, Book One of my Pathfinder Series. The Navigators giveaway
  2. (2 copies remaining as of now) Paths of Duty and Honor, Book 2 of the Pathfinders series. Paths of Honor and Duty
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Friday 10-26, Free E-Book Promotion: The Navigators

Please Note:

This edition is issued as a “new” book.(different ASIN number). This means that if you pick this up on a promotional give away you will receive a completely updated version of the book. The same holds true for Kindle Unlimited users. No matter which previous edition you may have picked up before Edition 6, this edition will download clean. Check my author’s page for more information..With that information out of the way, thie edition fixes a few typos that slipped through before and adds some sketches of the Space Station described in chapter 10 and the details of spin induced artificial gravity.As always every location mentioned in this series are real places with fictional structures. There are a great plenty of interesting locations that really exist in our solar system that I find there is no need to go making up completely fictional locations..This series started out as an exploration of our very real solar system, under very real circumstances. Solar sails are an economical way of moving about, Reaction engines are a quick way of getting from point “A” to point “B”. The asteroids provide many of the necessary resources to support space based manufacturing from metals to carbon and silicon based rocks, with various forms of ice including water and methane that a robust economy is possible without having to “lift” everything from Earth..That is the general background I have developed this story around. Can people really live on Mercury? Probably in the polar regions and by migrating to stay on the dark side. Mercury experiences one day every two of it’s years. (88 Earth days each.) the temperature range at the poles varies between -280 degrees F at night to 800 degrees F during the day cycle. .So far is has been fun developing the various climates and conditions as functional environments for exploration and resource development. All in all I’m excited about the possibilities for developing workable space exploration projects to answer the classic sci-fi question.. What if?

Story Summary:

At the beginning of the third decade of the 22nd Century mankind is moving into the solar system forced by the necessity of providing resources for twenty billion people. Resource acquisition and processing has moved off Earth in order to free up land for food production and for recuperation, relaxation and education areas for spacers after a tour of duty, Human beings could not spend all their lives in micro-gravity environments. Provision had to be made for space workers to spend time in normal gravity conditions for health reasons.

Besides, most items could be more economically produced in space, even the fungal “synth” foods. Moving products from space to Earth was much more economical than moving people and material off Earth. And wages for space workers were attractive enough to encourage tens of thousands to apply each year for duty off-Earth.

From the frigid polar areas of Mercury to the orbital stations around Earth and Mars, to the vast emptiness of the Asteroid Belt’s mining stations, and beyond, people were willing to leave the relative safety of Earth and risk their lives attempting to wrest fortunes from the cold dark rocks of the “Belt” to retire on. And like any “gold rush” environment people supplying the logistical support for the miners were making fortunes too.

The Space Authority was now Earth’s governing body.The “SA” provided transport and training for those with the education and physical stamina to qualify. Not all those accepted proved able to complete the training for various reasons. Some didn’t survive the training at all. It was dangerous work, dangerous training, and accidents did happen. The Authorities’ representatives in space were the Navy and the Marines who functioned as a combined Coast Guard and police force.

The Space Authority maintained the seat of government at Lunar Base One, located in the starkly harsh Mount D’Alembert range of the Moon. The Navy had chosen the site for its psychological impact. It had scenic vistas that constantly reminded the legislators, administrators and bureaucrats of the government living there that everyone in space depended on others acting responsibly.

This is the story of one group of trainees as they learn to work together and face the challenges of working and living off Earth.Starting with Randal Stewart, who wants to train as an engineer. Born and raised in Vermont this will be his first experience with space. Baljit Singh,one of very few Sikhs to take training as a spacer. Siobahn Caruso, a white-hat hacker since she was 14. Hanna Dunstan, headed to the Navy as a career. Umra Mailu, from the central highlands of Kenya, who is seeking adventure with the Marines. And finally, there is Art Simmonds, an avid surfer looking for business opportunities to make a career.

The Navigators at Amazon.com