When the men arrived at the gate of Valley Forge, there were two lines of mounted guards waiting for them. Daniel could see that it was the men that had stayed behind with Jeb and others from Lafayette's regiment. As they entered through the lines of troops, they were greeted with doffed hats and loud cheers. Daniel was riding by General Lafayette. "Gen'ral, they sure know how to treat you right."
"Colonel Boone, this greeting is not just for me, it is for all of us."
Daniel grinned and reached across Lafayette's back and carefully gave him a quick squeeze. "Regardless of what happens with this little pow-wow, I'm proud to know ya Gen'ral Lafayette." Daniel pulled his hand back and offered it to the young general who shook it firmly.
Lafayette smiled, showing his dimples. "I will forever remember this little journey I made with you, Colonel. I only regret that Jeb is not here with us. I can not get him off my mind."
At the end of the welcoming troops stood a tall, handsome, broad-shouldered man. His hair was powdered and tied back in a short queue, his uniform immaculate, his face grave, but benevolent, giving away no emotion. Daniel knew it was General Washington. General Greene and Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton flanked him. General Washington stepped forward. The muscles at the sides of his mouth quivered slightly as if he were about to smile, but no smile came forth. "General Lafayette, it appears you ran into a little trouble."
"Yes, sir, mon General, but these good friends with me saw to it I reached you safely."
Daniel saw that, unlike Washington, Lafayette's face disclosed his emotion, or emotions, for all to see. He was smiling, but his eyes were filling with tears, his bottom lip quivered slightly. The boy seemed to be torn between sheer joy at the sight of his commander, and fear that he was in trouble with his adopted father. Daniel grinned because it so reminded him of his son, Israel, trying to face down his ma holding a switch in her hand. Washington would have to be a very hard man indeed not to be moved at the sight of this devoted adopted son.
The older general looked intently at Daniel, with teary blue-gray eyes. That was his only display of emotion and Daniel knew it was a thank you. Washington said, "Welcome to Valley Forge, gentlemen. From the looks of things, you all need some rest before you meet our Oneida guests. They have been enthusiastically waiting your arrival, but I asked them to wait until tomorrow. There is one young man, though, that has refused to take no for an answer."
Washington stepped aside and there stood behind him, grinning Jeb, with one and half arms, leaning on a fellow soldier. Jeb's tears streaming down his young face indicated the emotion he felt, which left him speechless. Lafayette quickly dismounted, hurried to the young soldier, and embraced him. "Welcome back, Jeb."
"Thank you, sir. It is such a relief to see you alive, general. Pardon my emotional state, sir. Everyone here was very worried."
General Lafayette smiled and said, "And I was worried about you."
The mounted guard doffed their hats and "Hoorahs!" were offered to their comrade, Jeb.
Daniel said, "Jeb, you learnt how to cook with that good arm yet?"
The young soldier swiped his one sleeve across his eyes and said, "Not yet, sir, but I will. Your words of encouragement meant a lot to me… and my family. I'm going to be all right."
After the men dismounted, Hamilton was the second to embrace General Lafayette, which he did with great brotherly warmth. He looked concerned at the bandage wrapped about his head, but as Lafayette left his embrace and walked by, Hamilton's eyes grew wide at the sight of the ripped coat. "Gilbert, has someone been beating on you?"
Lafayette turned and put his finger to his lips to shush Hamilton. Hamilton immediately changed his worried look to a disinterested look, but it was too late, General Greene had heard.
Greene grabbed Lafayette by his arm and turned him. "Who did this?"
"A Tory. He is waiting in a mine on the trail towards Chester, with some friends, and some of our cattle. They have a couple of canon stowed somewhere too. You need to send some men and pick them up. It is not as bad as it looks, Nathanael. Please don't make a big show of it."
General Greene looked seriously up into Lafayette's pleading eyes, as if he was contemplating that request. "All right, but you are to go to bed and get some rest, now. I will see to your men and the Tories. Hamilton, take him upstairs and see that my order is obeyed."
Hamilton saluted General Greene and led Lafayette away by the arm to Washington's headquarters.
Daniel had seen and heard the little transaction going on behind General Washington's back. Washington hadn't noticed, or was pretending not to hear. He greeted each man, Daniel, Mingo, Jeremy, Isak and Henry with a warm strong handshake and a reserved smile and then he did the same with Sergeant Boggs, Lieutenant Grayson and each of the surviving guards. Daniel noted that to just be in the presence of the great man left an indelible impression, but to have him look you in the eyes and shake your hand…that could be the apex of a lifetime for many men.
Between Washington's headquarters and his own, General Greene managed to find enough big fluffy feather bolsters to bed down Daniel, Mingo, Jeremy, Henry and Isak. He didn't have to order them to bed, they were soon all sound asleep.
Once General Washington found out the full extent of Mingo's and Lafayette's injuries, he ordered that they stay in bed until Mrs. Washington said they could get up. The Indians were forced to wait another three days and they grew impatient. Finally, four of their leaders appeared at headquarters demanding to see their brother, Kayewla. Daniel was sitting in the parlor of the home with General Washington, and the three members of the Yankee Doodle Society, when he caught a glimpse through the window of Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton attempting to reason with the Indians in French.
"It looks like the Oneida have lost patience with us Gen'ral Washington," Daniel said. "From the sound of it, if Gen'ral Lafayette doesn't make an appearance soon, we'll have an Indian war on our hands."
Before General Washington could get to the door, General Lafayette flew down the stairs and out the door, nearly running over General Washington. He yelled behind him, "Excusez-moi, mon Général!" Mingo was not far behind him with his left arm in a sling. The rest of the men hurried outside to find one of the tall Indian chiefs had General Lafayette engulfed in an embrace that nearly hid him from sight.
Jeremy asked Mingo, "Who is that? He is obviously fond of General Lafayette."
"The Oneida chief, Skenandoah," Mingo said. "The other three men are leaders as well, representing the three Oneida clans, the Bear, the Turtle and the Wolf. They have adopted the general as one of their own and named him after a great Oneida warrior, Kayewla. Apparently, they have heard of our little misadventures on the trail and are showing their relief that the general is well."
"Mingo," Daniel said, "I'm beginnin' to think Gen'ral Lafayette has a way with people. If we had given him a mite more time with those Tories, he might have made friends with them too."
General Washington chuckled. "He has done that, Daniel, on more than one occasion. He's a regular evangelist for this cause, a speech from him can arouse patriotism in a cold stone. The Oneida have an appreciation for General Lafayette's membership in the French court."
Daniel shook his head, "Who would'a thought?"
"Well," Mingo said, "he must be quite a young man to have wrung such affection out of such a stoic tribe of people. I understand what he meant when he said he too was caught between two worlds. I think he handles the situation with great grace for such a young man. At least it has not caused him to lose sense of himself."
Daniel looked knowingly at his friend understanding the implication of his words. He knew that Mingo had had a very difficult life caught between two worlds. He said quietly for Mingo's ears only, "I think our young marquis's secret is that he let's people know him, faults and all, what do think?"
"I hear you, Daniel, and I acknowledge your keen observation."
When Lafayette got free of the eager embraces of the Indians, he turned and introduced his friends. The general gestured with his outstretched arm to Daniel and Mingo. "Je vous présente, le exceptionnel Daniel Boone, l'homme de la frontière, et Mingo du Cherokee." The Indians eagerly shook each man's hand.
Then General Lafayette asked Henry to step forward. He introduced him as Henry Abington to the Indians. Henry turned a puzzled face to his friends Jeremy and Isak, who smiled and encouraged him. When the handsome Indians saw Henry, their eyes widened in wonder and they spoke to each other in soft tones. General Lafayette put his hand on Henry's shoulder and whispered, "Henry, they think you are the spirit son of their great brother, Benjamin Franklin." The white men smiled and tried not to laugh at Henry's predicament.
Henry stuttered, "Whhaa…What do I say sir?"
"Smile, and say bonjour, mes amis." The general grinned sheepishly.
Henry did as he was told and the Indians quickly gave him the same all encompassing hugs they have given the general. When Henry got free, he turned a frowning face to General Lafayette, peering sharply over his spectacles. "You knew that was going to happen didn't you? That was the big important reason I HAD to come with you?"
Lafayette's dark eyebrows went up as if he was going to deny the charge, but then he thought better when he turned and saw General Washington standing directly behind him. "It was one reason, Henry. The main reason is your skill with explosives…of course."
Mingo said, "The chief said he had brought a gift to the soldiers of George Washington. What was that gift, sir?"
General Washington smiled. "Six hundred bushels of maize, and an Oneida woman to show the men how to cook it."
"That was truly a great gift," Mingo said. "They have none to spare, it has been a hard winter for the Oneida as well as the other members of the Six Nations."
General Washington nodded his understanding. "It was greatly appreciated by the men. The winter was lean here as well."
Lafayette turned to the chief and said, "Nous avons amené des cadeaux à nos frères le Oneida." The general pointed to the wagons lined up in front of headquarters filled with guns and ammunition. The chief smiled obviously pleased with the gesture.
Lafayette then looked at Henry. "Henri démontrera un nouvel explosif pour vous."
Daniel asked Mingo, "What's he sayin'?"
Mingo smiled. "The general has told them that we brought gifts to our brothers the Oneida and Henry is going to demonstrate their new explosives. The Oneida have a great appreciation for brilliant men like Ben Franklin. That is probably why General Lafayette has introduced Henry to them."
General Washington said, "General Lafayette, why don't we adjourn to my meeting tent. We should get the talks underway. Dinner will be served for our guests as well." The tall commander-in-chief indicated with his arms outstretched. "You are all invited."
The group moved towards the large canvas pavilion Washington used for staff meetings. Daniel asked General Washington, "Sir, what are you trying to achieve in these talks with the Oneida? Surely this is not just a meeting of goodwill."
"You are right, Daniel. I sent General Lafayette out to acquire the guns and ammunition, and invited you and Mingo, for more than a mere token celebration of friendship. Benjamin Franklin explained to me something of the ways of the Oneida from his experience. He recommended that you two be present to assist us. The Oneida have graciously refrained from joining with the British as the other tribes have done. They have refused many offered gifts and the protection offered by the British army. For which I am eternally grateful, but what I would really like, is to have Oneida warriors fighting side by side with my men."
"That is a tall order, sir," Mingo said. "They have been reduced to very few young warriors by the British attacks on their villages and towns."
General Washington frowned. "That is what I have heard, but I do not know their exact fighting strength."
Daniel crossed his arms over his chest and rubbed his chin with one hand as he pondered the general's dilemma. "What exactly were you plannin' on doin' with these warriors, sir? By the looks of things, you have your men trained for European combat and field maneuvers." Daniel pointed out to the parade ground where General Steuben was drilling several regiments.
Washington took a deep breath, exhaled and looked off in the direction of the parade ground as well. "Yes, we are a very different army today…I hope. This training is not field tested yet. That will come soon. My purpose in courting the Indians is to show the British that they can not drive a wedge between 'all' of the natives and the colonists. I admit it is as much propaganda as battle tactics. I don't believe the presence of the Indians could throw a general assault to our side, but that is not what we are about anyway. My overhaul plan for this war is to just keep an army in the field. We will bite at the British heels and inflict damage where we can, but not try to engage in all out 'winner-take-all' battles."
Mingo said, "Native warfare matches your tactics perfectly."
The tall general nodded. "To cut to the chase gentlemen, I would like a company of Oneida with each of my regiments in the field."
Mingo sighed. "Sir, I am certain they do not have that many men to offer. Perhaps if you start with a smaller number and, if the arrangement proves worthwhile, request more?"
"I may not have the time for such a trial run approach."
"Sir, s'pose you could only get fifty to hundred warriors?" Daniel asked. "Could you not put them on the line to be sure the British encountered them. Then fool the British into thinkin' you have more?"
General Washington chuckled. "Daniel, that has been the essence of our survival so far. Bluffing the British is a game we all know well around here."
General Washington looked seriously at Mingo and Daniel. "I am forever beholden to you two for bringing General Lafayette home alive. The British and the Tories have ferociously targeted him as a symbol of this cause." The general sighed deeply. "I'm sure they are also aware of the pain the loss of him would inflict on me personally."
The general bowed his head. "I unwittingly sent him on a mission with Tories among his men. That is why I redirected you to his camp instead of leading you here to Valley Forge. I had some intelligence that the British had sent out Tories to attempt a capture of General Lafayette--"
"Unfortunately," Daniel said, "their leader recognized me at the Black Horse Inn, sir. I'm afraid I brought the captors to the prey."
"I am sorry, Daniel. I put you and Mingo, and everyone with you, in danger by my decision. I can not help worrying over the marquis as I would my own son, which sometimes leads me to… meddle, as General Lafayette calls it. He and I had a long talk about that last night and I am going to 'try' to take a hands-off approach in the future and let his guards do their job. I avoided talking with him at all for the last couple of days. I knew what he was going to say, and for once I would have to fully agree with him instead of correcting his youthful enthusiasm." The general chuckled.
"You were just doing what you thought right," Daniel said, "based on the information you had. I would have done the same if I knew a son of mine was in danger. It was just fate, or the fortunes of war, as a young friend told me, that made a mess of your well thought out plans."
"Well thought out plans?" Washington's blue eyes twinkled. "You flatter me, Daniel. General Lafayette had very short notice that you would be accompanying him back to Valley Forge. I'm sure he didn't let it show, but he was fraught with worry over your's and Mingo's safety as well as the young Yankee Doodle Society." Washington bowed his head and wiped a tear from his eye. The older man was clearly moved by his remembrance of the recent conversation with his young prodigy.
Daniel said, "I got the impression that Gen'ral Lafayette wouldn't like being protected or held back from danger and I understood from your letter that he was very important to you--"
"You mean you read between the lines, as I hoped you would?"
"It is silly of me to even think about keeping Lafayette from danger. He is drawn to it like a magnet. I just have a strong desire to send him home alive and in one piece. I can deal with it if he loses his life in battle, but…"
Mingo asked, "Did you discover who sabotaged the wagon and the guns?"
"The perpetrators of the gun sabotage confessed under interrogation. They were working with the Tories that attacked you. Catching a few doesn't really make much difference. There are more of those slippery slugs in all corners of this army." The general sighed and rubbed the back of his neck.
Daniel noticed the older man looked exhausted. His unpowdered brown hair was grayer than he remembered and his face worn and aged. Daniel knew it was probably from political battles. News of strive among the general's staff had reached Boonesborough last month. It was clear why General Washington valued Lafayette's genuine adoration and loyalty and was keen on protecting it.
Daniel said, "Gen'ral Lafayette's closest aides, Sergeant Daniel Boggs and Lieutenant John Grayson were shadowed with doubts of their loyalty. They, and the guard that accompanied us, are brave, loyal men."
General Washington raised his head high and smiled. "Yes, they are. Hand picked by me! General Lafayette begrudgingly allows me to pick his guard. You probably remember Boggs from the Braddock expedition."
The general continued, "I have requested your presence here at this meeting, gentlemen, to make my request to the Oneida. You can see that the Marquis has opened the door for us. He has arranged their presence here, and understands the ceremony, but he is young and does not know the Indians as you two do. He can make friends with bears and wolves, but neither he nor I can achieve the end result I desire."
"Sir," Mingo said, "it will not be achieved in one meeting. It takes days to 'meet' with the Oneida to achieve a 'result'."
"Of course, Mingo, I know that from my experience in the last war. I am afraid I was not very patient when I was young."
"You are accustomed to making quick decisions in a matter of hours in a Council of War," Mingo said. "The same results take days, possibly weeks with the Oneida. Each of the leaders is allowed to voice their opinion and consensus much be reached after hearing all arguments for and against."
The great man snickered. "Mingo, my Councils of War are more like Indian negotiations than you realize. I will trust in your's and Daniel's guidance. And your shoulder, Mingo? Are you up to days of negotiations?"
Mingo rolled his injured shoulder, testing it. He smiled. "Thanks to Henry, I think I could beat Daniel at arm wrestling with this arm."
"I'm not 'bout to accept that challenge, Mingo," Daniel quipped. "If you won, it would destroy my burly man image."
The three men laughed as they entered the tent.
As servants poured Madeira wine for the group sitting around Washington's large campaign table, General Lafayette asked the chief to tell the Oneida creation story. The chief was happy to oblige, and asked if he was to tell the story in his own language or in French. Lafayette said, "Mingo, can you speak Oneida?"
Lafayette smiled and said, "Then please translate for us. I think the story will be more true to its original that way. The chief will appreciate being able to speak in his own language."
The handsome young chief stood before the gathered men. He was clothed in light buckskin covered with designs created with small seed beads. It was colorful and handsome against his dark skin. As he told the story of the creation of the world and the Oneida people, Jeremy, Isak and Henry listened intently to Mingo translate. They were quickly engrossed in the tale of the Sky Woman, Mother Earth and her two twins the Good Spirit and the Evil Spirit. The chief appreciated their genuine attentiveness to the simple tale. He looked into the eyes of the young men and told his story directly to them. Daniel saw the affect it had on the boys. He leaned over to Jeremy, who was sitting next to him, and whispered, "I believe his tale has beat my b'ar tale all to heck." Jeremy grinned at Daniel.
The ending was a moral that was familiar, though new. Mingo translated, "This is the reason that everyone has both a good heart and a bad heart. Regardless of how good a man is, he still possesses some evil. The reverse also is true. For however evil a man may be, he still has some good qualities. No man is perfect." (1)
Daniel said, "I don't know if I can find it in my heart to see the good in Charlie Kerns." The white men laughed at Daniel, but the Oneida looked confused until Mingo explained to them what Daniel meant. Then they laughed as well."
As the meeting continued, Daniel spoke with the Indians, through Mingo, of his respect for their ways and their right to their land. He spoke at length of how much the colonists cherished peace with the Oneida. Mingo spoke to them about the Cherokee and how his people were friends to the Oneida people.
At the end of the meeting, the Indian chief said that the Oneida people were suffering much due to their decision to side with the Americans. They watched the other members of the great confederation of tribes, the Haudenosaunee, which Mingo translated as Iroquois, grow fat and wealthy through their support of the British. The chief looked at General Washington and said but no amount of trials or tribulations would sway the people from their allegiance to George Washington and their brother Kayewla, and their just cause against the British. Mingo translated the chief's words. It was clear that it was what General Washington wanted to hear, but not everything he wanted to hear. He smiled at the chief and nodded.
Mingo asked the chief, in Oneida, "Great brother from the north, the great white chief Washington would like to make a humble request of the Oneida people." Mingo waited for the chief to give permission.
The Oneida chief looked at his companions, momentarily, then back to Mingo. He nodded and said in his language, "Mingo of the Cherokee, I and my brothers will hear Washington's request."
Mingo continued, "The great chief Washington would like to request a number of Oneida warriors to mix with his brave men to fight side by side against the invading British."
The chief hesitated to answer as if thinking over Mingo's request. He turned to his companions and spoke softly. One of the group frowned and sternly answered the chief, while the other two smiled and answered softly. The white men in the tent were left in suspense since only Mingo knew what they were saying.
The chief turned back to Mingo and said, "Mingo of the Cherokee, tell the great white chief Washington, we have few warriors to spare. Their absence from our villages and towns would leave our women, children and livestock vulnerable to our enemies who are great in number."
Mingo bowed his head and turned to Washington and translated the chief's words. He added in English, "This is not a firm no, general. Only a volley. I will ask that we continue the discussion tomorrow."
The general nodded.
Mingo asked the chief, "Chief, we ask that we may have the honor of your company again tomorrow and that we may talk on this subject?"
The chief readily nodded in agreement and smiled.
That evening, the Oneida warriors that had accompanied the chiefs, performed a war dance for General Washington's staff and guests. They prepared a large fire in the center of a clearing in front of Washington's headquarters. Around this fire the painted warriors moved, their eyes and skin glistened in the firelight, their hair was cut in a close Mohawk style. The young tall Indians first moved very slowly, their muscles rippling in rhythm with the drum beats of two of their number who sat by the side. The men chanted along with the dance. They brandished tomahawks, threatening imaginary foe. As they moved around in the circle, they quickened their pace.
Mingo glanced at Henry beside him and saw that Henry was showing some distress. "Henry, you need not fear the dance. It is only a demonstration of the skills of the warriors, their strength and agility."
Henry took a deep breath and said, "I understand, but I am afraid it will give me nightmares for weeks to come."
Mingo chuckled and patted Henry on the back.
Daniel said, "They are on our side, Henry."
"Yes, that is what General Lafayette keeps telling me."
Jeremy and Isak hearing the conversation couldn't keep from laughing at their friend's discomfort.
Henry looked with ill-concealed disdain at his friends. "What is so funny, pray tell?"
"Henry, you are a bigger 'townie' than either I or Isak," Jeremy said. "It is just a dance for pity's--" Before Jeremy finished his sentence, there arose a monstrous whoop and holler from the dancing warriors that made Jeremy and Isak, as well as Henry, jump back from the circle and grab each other in panic.
Henry said, "Just a dance, you say?"
Jeremy stared at the screaming warriors, then inquiringly at Mingo. Mingo grinned. "It is their war whoop, boys. It incites fear in their enemies."
"It certainly does," Henry said. "Will this end soon?"
The frenzied dance and the yelling went on for a quite awhile. When it stopped, the fierce sound continued to echo over the nearby hills. General Washington smiled and said, "I hope the British heard that."
The Oneida met again with Washington, and company, the next day, and the next, and the next again before they finally agreed to send fifty warriors to Valley Forge upon their return home. At the last culminating meeting, they presented several wampum belts to commemorate the decision. Mingo told General Washington that the presentation of wampum belts was a very serious gesture, not to be taken lightly. General Washington said, "Then it is time that we present their gifts. Come; let us all adjourn to the parade ground."
At the parade ground, the Indians inspected their new guns and Henry prepared his little demonstration. As Henry was fiddling with his canisters and chemicals, Jeremy and Isak walked up with Daniel and Mingo. Jeremy said, "Henry, this is going to be a SMALL explosion right?"
Henry stood up, pushed his spectacles up higher on his nose, and looked aghast at his captain. "Really Jeremy, can you not give me some credit. I have come a long way since we started our little society."
Jeremy looked wide-eyed at Isak who only smirked. Daniel and Mingo were amused with Henry's apparatus as if peering at a new invention of Dr. Franklin's.
Henry checked his wires, which led to a small broken down wagon loaded with hay in the middle of the parade ground. He returned to his command post and said, "Well, gentlemen, I believe I am ready."
Henry motioned to General Lafayette to bring the Indians and General Washington over to observe the demonstration. Jeremy and Isak counted down from five for Henry. At the end of the count, Henry touched wires to metal, there was a loud explosion, the wagon and hay flew into the air and then three large plumes of smoke arose, one white, one blue, one red. Henry smiled as the smoke rose perfectly in columns above the debris then mingled overhead.
Everyone cheered and doffed hats at Henry's success, including the soldiers standing around who were amused by all the hoopla. The Indians looked on wide-eyed and clearly pleased with Henry's 'gift.' Jeremy and Isak grinned wide at Henry and slapped him on the back.
Isak said, "Another brilliant execution Henry. That colored smoke is a nice touch. How'd you do that?"
Henry frowned. "It is a trade secret, Isak," Henry said defiantly. "A secret I see no reason to share with the likes of you two doubting Thomas's."
Jeremy and Isak laughed.
Washington and Lafayette walked over to join Henry and his friends. General Lafayette said, "Merci Henry. You are amazing my friend."
Henry smiled proudly at his general.
Lafayette said, "I hear you are leaving us, Colonel Boone--"
"Eh…" Daniel lifted a forefinger. "What was that?"
The young Frenchman rolled his eyes. "Of course, Daniel. You are relieved of your commission as you wished, sir. You have a long trip ahead of you. You have done so much for us. Will you allow us to provide you with transportation, a carriage perhaps?"
Daniel looked at Mingo. "Thank ya, sir, but Mingo and I like to travel the simple way. Nothin' to break down along the way. Besides we can't go home empty handed. We plan on doing some trappin' along the way."
Everyone laughed. General Lafayette said, "Go well then. It has been a pleasure getting to know you gentlemen, even though the journey was difficult. I have you two to thank for my life…and my sanity."
Daniel said, "I think your loyal guards, Sergeant Boggs and Lieutenant Grayson deserve most of the credit, as well as your young friends here, the Yankee Doodle Society. It was a pleasure to accompany you and your fine men, and I hope this will not be our last meetin'. If you're ever in Kentucky, be sure to look me up. I'd love for my family to meet ya."
General Washington sighed and shook his head. "Daniel Boone, do not give him ideas."
Mingo took Lafayette's hand in a firm shake. "General, you are an inspiration to all peoples everywhere. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors wherever your life takes you."
"Thank you, Mingo. I wish the same for you."
"Gentlemen," Washington said, "I believe we learn something from every experience in life that contributes to who we are. Perhaps you have had a small 'rite of passage' on your recent journey and learned something new. I ask each of you to share with us what you take away from this adventure."
General Washington looked at Jeremy first. The handsome young blonde leader of the Yankee Doodle Society said, "I found the confidence I didn't know I had, to lead men, sir,"
"I found my courage," Henry said, "with a little help from my friends."
"I re-discovered the true value of loyalty, sir," Isak said.
Daniel pushed his coon cap back on his head and leaned on Ticklicker. "The confidence to lead, courage and loyalty are fine attributes for young men to acquire. I reckon, though, that you three already had those traits before we headed down that trail. Am I right, Gen'ral Lafayette?"
"Oui, they just did not know it." The general flashed his dimpled grin at his young corp.
Daniel furrowed his brow and thought for a moment. "I'm an old hand at these 'adventures,' but I have to say I got a new glimpse of some old prejudices I've been carrying around that I don't partic'larly like. I believe I can lighten my load by throwin' off that baggage."
"I saw a reflection of myself in an unexpected form," Mingo said. "It has led me to consider the person I might have been had I taken a different path, and the person I might become if I allow others to know me. I will have much to ponder on the way home."
Daniel squeezed Mingo's shoulder and gave his friend a smile.
General Washington looked expectedly at General Lafayette. "And I?" Lafayette said. "A very wise man taught me that I cannot 'go it alone'."
General Washington exclaimed, "Amen to that!"
The men laughed. Daniel caught Lafayette's eye, brought his hand up to his coonskin cap and gave him a quick salute.
General Lafayette returned to the Indians, as Daniel and Mingo headed out of camp.
Jeremy asked, "Are they going to walk back to Kentucky?"
General Washington laughed. "It may be a myth, but I hear they walk everywhere, Jeremy."
Isak said, "I'm going to miss those tall Kentuckians."
"I'm going to miss the tall tales," Henry said.
General Washington said, "I'm sure you have a few of your own now, Henry, for having known those men. If you stop and think about it, you should have no shortage of tall tales for your grandchildren."
Henry raised his eyebrows, "My grandchildren?"
Jeremy slapped Henry on the back and said, "I don't think Henry's quite ready for that adventure, sir."
(1) quoted from "The Oneida Creation Story" See my profile for link.