Rebecca Boone stood on a rise of a hill looking out over the green hills to the valley and the river below. The line of endless trees and miles of open spaces restored her somehow. She wandered down to the edge of the river enjoying just a few minutes of peace. She sighed and stretched out her arms. She was tired. Of course, things always seemed more tiresome when Dan was away. She was lonesome and the daily toil was harder to take. Of course, things were more tiresome with Dan away. With him gone there was one less body to do all that needed to be done, and as Israel often remarked, "This place always has something that needs doing."
Not that she begrudged Dan his wandering. It was who he was and she knew it when she married him, but the truth was she longed to go too. She wanted to see what was beyond the next hill, and the next. But someone had to stay at home and mind the children.
"Just three weeks, I reckon, four the most." He had said shouldering his pack.
"I'll expect you back in six." She'd said with a smile.
"Rebecca Boone! You doubt my word!" His green eyes peered into hers with suspicion.
"No, just your ability to calculate accurately." They stood near the river not more than a half-mile from their cabin. She'd walked with him that far after kissing the children good-bye.
"Mind your Ma," He'd told them.
"You're leavin' me with nothin' but women!" Israel had complained. Dan bent his six and a half foot frame down and lifted his small son off the ground.
"I'm trusting you to look out for our women." He said looking straight into his son's bright blue eyes. "And when your legs are a bit longer, you can tag along with Mingo and me, alright."
"Sure, Pa." He'd kissed Israel and his sister once more. "Your Ma's gonna walk a piece with me. She'll be right back."
They'd walked in companionable silence, fingers intertwined. "You've got enough meat for two maybe three months, so there's no worry there. Things have been peaceful of late, but don't go traipsing off into the wilderness." She'd laughed at him then.
"You're awful quiet. " He'd said peering into her brilliantly blue eyes as they neared the river.
"Makes you nervous?" She'd asked him.
"A mite. You sure you're alright? You aren't angry are you? Leading this group of settlers is some easy money. All we got to do is take them there and head right back home. I'll be back in plenty of time before we have to go out and check our traps."
"You'd know if I was angry."
"Well, that's true. Still something is bothering you." He looked puzzled.
Ignoring his questions she'd replied, "As for easy money, I don't know about that. Leading a group of inexperienced settlers through hostile territory doesn't sound easy to me. I'll miss you, but we'll manage. We always do."
They stood facing each other at the edge of the river. He wrapped both his long arms around her. The light was just behind her, making the tips of hair shine like gold. He leaned in close and kissed her.
"I will be careful." He promised as he finally released her.
"No, you won't, " She had said. "But you will be back. You always are." She smiled up at him and he felt his resolve to leave her start to melt away.
She leaned in and gave him one more kiss and he held her tightly in one last hug. Sighing, he ran his finger along the line of her cheek and turned away. He was across the river in a few long strides. Standing on the opposite shore, he turned to look at her one more time. She was, without a doubt, the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. It seemed wrong to leave. It seemed wrong to resign her to a life on the edge of civilization, cooped up in a tiny cabin.
"Rebecca Boone!" He'd hollered from across the river. "I'm coming right straight back home to you. So don't get any ideas about finding some fancy fella to take my spot!' The sound of her laughter had followed him as he'd walked toward Chota to meet up with Mingo.
That had been more than eight weeks ago. The children were watching for him daily, but he had not returned. She took one last look around, but seeing no one. She'd sighed and returned to the cabin.