|The Line is Unbroken
Author: Amatista PM
Sequel to "Quiet Face," taking place eight years after the battle with the Huron war party...Rated: Fiction K - English - Words: 2,512 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 7 - Published: 03-11-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6815506
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Without a care, the doe nibbled quietly on forest floor grasses. Sunlight shined on her fur once in a while, revealing the brilliant tawny color that helped blend with the wooded surroundings. Despite the natural camouflage, her senses were always alert, always checking. Large ears would flick back and forth, listening for any change in the sounds of the atmosphere.
Hidden within the thickness of low branches, eyes watched the deer. The eyes were steady, and anticipated any movement that could occur during their observation. Not making sudden movements, he eased his musket closer to himself. Patience. It was necessity now. Patience would bring the right moment to him.
As if hearing the thoughts, the doe snapped her head up, scanning the area cautiously. This was no longer a simple eating session; danger loomed nearby. Uncas remained calm and unmoving. A skilled hunter would not lose his prey, and he did not intend to now. There was much the doe could provide for the Mohican. He admired the grace with which she turned her head, the curves of her shape perfectly symmetrical, her long legs ready to leap away at a moment's notice. And then she locked eyes with him, something he had not expected. There was no sound, no motion from either of them. Only predator and prey sizing one another up. A spirit of the forest and a child of the Earth. Mustn't wait any longer, he thought, tightening his grip on the barrel of the musket...
Until a movement from the doe's right caught Uncas' attention: a fawn had emerged from the thick brush. Uncas blinked, watching the young creature take uncertain steps towards its mother. The tawny color of its coat matched the doe, interrupted only by the splash of white spots across its backside. He, too, had sensed trouble in the forest air and came to be protected.
The hunter relaxed his grip on the gun, gradually lowering it. He stared again into the large black eyes of the doe, and smiled subtly.
Go, my friend.
In an instant, the deer bounded into the thick woods, followed closely by her skittish fawn. They were gone, but Uncas felt no disappointment in the failure of the hunt. On the contrary: he was pleased that he continued to fulfill the promise of one who was dear to his heart. Standing tall, he swung the musket over his shoulder and walked among the quiet trees towards his intended destination.
The wild territory of Can-tuck-ee was slowly being tamed. It was gradual, but happening nonetheless. What had once been countless miles of untouched vegetation, forests, grasses and hillsides was beginning to see strange new sights: homes erected by settlers migrating further to the west. As predicted by many elder natives, the arrival of the white man was causing the scenery to undergo a metamorphosis of sorts. But time brought about inevitable change, and so the world went on despite the fated interruption to what had been.
One of the frontier homes belonged to Uncas. Emerging from the woods with a couple pheasants in hand, he came upon the wide open expanse of his land, which had been his home for the past eight years. On it was the modest cabin he, Hawkeye and Chingachgook had built, a good place to settle down and start a family with the woman he loved. Not far from his homestead, Nathaniel and Cora had a house of their own, where they raised three sons. Despite changes in the world, the family would remain in close proximity.
As he approached, he found Chingachgook resting on the porch in a sturdy wooden chair. The old man was not a permanent resident, as he preferred to live among the wild lands and enjoyed the freedom it gave him. Besides, his sons deserved privacy with their women. Still, he did not hesitate to visit on a regular basis.
After hanging the pheasants and musket inside, Uncas quietly came near his father. Curled up against his chest was the sleeping form of Uncas' daughter, Alexandra. Smiling softly, Uncas watched her sleep. Alexandra; named for his fallen friend from the Cameron family, his way of honoring her memory. At six years old, she still struck him with absolute wonder. This was his daughter, his seed, a child born of the love between him and Alice. In Mohican, the proud grandfather called her Line Unbroken, for her birth signified the continuation of his people. Half-Mohican, yes, but possessing Mohican blood nonetheless. No longer were they a doomed people, and the immortality of their race was destined go on. For this reason, Chingachgook had shed tears of joy. Uncas continued to smile. A child named for the two worlds that had joined to become one. How could any notion be more beautiful?
Coming close, he brushed the back of a finger against her cheek. Much like the doe in the woods, Alexandra's eyes fluttered open and silently met his. They all knew that she greatly resembled her father with her black hair and tan skin, appearing as though she was a full-fledged member of his race. However, it was facial expressions like this that made her resemblance to Alice so striking. For one so young, she held a great deal of emotion in her dark brown pools without saying a word. A true child of Quiet Face, indeed. Uncas would not have had it any other way.
Eyes still locked, a moment of unspoken communication passed between father and daughter. It was for her sake that he had let the doe go free. Alexandra loved deer. She asked him not to kill one if he ever realized a fawn was present. It was her argument that they deserved a chance to grow up, hence they needed their mothers to guide them. Unique wisdom for one so new to the world. Deep in his heart, Uncas knew he would keep this promise to her. Anytime he looked at a doe and fawn anymore, he thought he could see Alice and Alexandra within them. With a smile, she seemed to know what her father had done in the woods, and gratitude radiated from the depths of her eyes. With a contented sigh, she settled back onto her grandfather's chest.
My daughter, he mused with pride. As the wind blew, strands of hair tickled Alexandra's face, and he tucked them behind her ear. On closer inspection, he found a small braid was woven into the tresses. Uncas smiled knowingly; Alice had, after all, developed an affinity for braids a while back, and would adorn their child with them every day. Glancing out at his land, Uncas thought about the face he wanted to see, and knew where he would most likely find the woman who held his heart. Turning, he quietly stepped from the porch and disappeared around the far side of the cabin.
It could not have been more picturesque. In the distance, the late afternoon sun gradually approached the horizon. Somewhere beneath the sky, the waterfall cascaded to the waiting river below, which flowed through the land as a determined liquid path. Alice was mesmerized by waterfalls, one of the most incredible sights she had ever witnessed since coming to this world. She could stand there and watch for hours, and often did. Uncas had known how much she would appreciate the view when he chose this location.
She smiled as she thought of her beloved. Handsome, protective, brave, strong-there were not enough words to do him justice. Absently, she ran a hand over her pregnant belly. For the second time, she would become mother to Uncas' child. Much like when she was expecting Alexandra, the notion filled her with not with apprehension and worry, but with indescribable peace. Being with Uncas and creating a family had given her strength to overcome anything.
And that strength was needed. She was well aware of the scrutiny that would accompany her pursuit of love with him, especially since they came from two very different worlds. Alice was of an aristocratic English upbringing; Uncas was of the native peoples on this continent. That was apparent whenever he took her white hand into his brown one. Their relationship would no doubt be frowned upon by the masses, those who would scoff and consider marriage between them to be an abomination. Both English and natives alike would find reasons to disapprove. All of this she was aware of...but all of it she chose to ignore. Yes, the prejudices of others would be there, and that was unavoidable. But she cast those worries aside, her heart no longer that of a naive girl. Involvement during the altercation between the English and French had forced her to grow up quickly. That had banished the dainty little child she had been. She was a woman now; she was capable of thinking for herself and following her own dreams.
But time brought about inevitable change...
The only person's approval she prayed for was Chingachgook's, who had more to gain or lose by Uncas' choice in a wife. After all, Uncas was their last hope for the continuation of their line. Amazingly, he did approve of her! In truth, he and Uncas were equally protective of her, knowing how fragile she was in this strange new place. Taking her under their wings, they helped mold her into a confident, mature, and more self-dependent individual. The appreciation she had for them could never be matched. It had even been Chingachgook who ordained their marriage in a traditional Mohican ceremony, further demonstrating his approval for the pale-skinned girl. Knowing that no church would legally recognize their union, Alice preferred this alternative. She recalled that day fondly: the look of love radiating from Uncas' eyes that betrayed a carefully controlled smile; touching her hair in that way that sent pleasant shivers up and down her body; the gentle press of his lips on her palm, signifying the sealing of their commitment. Private, quiet and perfect. Chingachgook welcomed his white daughter into his family. A comfort to gain a father after losing one.
Sometimes, it is our choices that help to shape us into who we are.
Chingachgook's immortal words were not lost on her. Alice had made her choice, and she was quietly content in her roles as wife and mother.
Thinking about Alexandra made her heart swell. She had been elated when Cora, acting as midwife, announced she had given birth to a healthy daughter. As soon as the child was in her arms, their bond was instant. Tears of happiness and relief fell from her eyes as she secretly swore to the child: I will take care of you. And as he held his daughter for the first time, the dazed smile on Uncas' face made her love him even more. They were their own family, and nothing would change that in their hearts. In a short time, she learned more about herself than she thought possible by being a mother to this small human. It did not enter her mind to think of her as being part Mohican nor part English. She was simply human in Alice's eyes, and therefore, beautiful. Just like with Uncas and Nathaniel, she was brought up knowing both those worlds. It was important for her to appreciate her dual heritage so they could be passed on to future generations. The line was, as her name suggested, going to remain unbroken.
Many times, she thought about how they had finally come to this point. Many unexpected challenges had to be overcome in order to be together, and they stood stronger because of it. Life on the frontier was difficult. Cora once aptly described it as hacking out a living with one's bare hands. Alice found out just how true a statement that was. The work was hard, seemingly endless from day to day, and there was the potential for real danger. There were many times when any of them wanted to give up, but did not. Necessity yielded survival here. Complaining would not be a solution. Would it have been easier to return to her life in England? Perhaps. Would it have made her happy? Absolutely not. What a waste it would have been. She knew such a choice would have killed her heart. A life without the hardships she had endured would have felt utterly empty. For the experiences she lived through—good and bad alike—she was forever grateful to have them tucked away inside her mind.
Arms slowly encircled her from behind, but she did not jump in fear from the contact. This touch was too familiar to be frightening. Hands covered hers on top of her belly, and she sighed as she leaned back against Uncas' chest. It was a position they often assumed, making Alice feel safe and guarded by her love. They remained in that embrace for a while, watching as the sun made its languid descent, bathing the world in tints of gold, orange and red. No words passed between them; they were unnecessary. Uncas always had methods of conveying his affections without any kind of utterance. He demonstrated with his eyes, his touch, his kiss, his protective nature, his drive to take care of his family.
She interlaced her fingers with his. In her ear, Uncas began to sing a Mohican lullaby, the same one he often chanted to Alexandra. Its beauty was adored by her, too. She could sense the smile in his voice as he sang, which was contagious. He sang not only for her, but also for the child growing within her. They had already discussed that the child's Mohican name would be Falling Waters, as it represented something cherished by Alice. She smiled coyly and blushed; the name also referred to where the child had been conceived...
The soft chuckle in Uncas' throat told her he read her thoughts. Swaying ever-so-slightly with his wife in his arms, Uncas continued his soothing song. One hand toyed with the braid that hung over her shoulder. There were no regrets for him. When Alice Munro came into his life, his path had become clear. Right or wrong, she was his love. His life. His to hold. Gone was the timid girl he once had to grab in order to calm her in the woods near Albany; in her place stood the serene woman encased in his arms. Growing wisdom illuminated her from within, and he loved her for it. He could sense the spirits of his ancestors celebrating in his heart, pleased with the decisions he made for himself. Everything was as it should be.
The last notes of his song faded into the cooling evening air, and Alice sighed happily. Resting his cheek on her hair, Uncas whispered a phrase to her in his language.
Closing her eyes, she smiled and said, "I love you, too."