While harvesting, the German settlement near New Market, Virginia receive warning of an impending attack by French and Indians war parties. They flee to a quickly cobbled refuge, Fort Providence—for they will surely need to rely on God’s provision. The forted colonials long to celebrate the holidays and await the arrival of visitors.
Today is the CONCLUSION of A Forted Frontier Holiday!
Part 1 - Inside Fort Providence by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Part 2 - A Providential Proposal by Susan Craft
Part 3 - Landlocked by Carla Olson Gade
Part 4 - Preserve My Life From Fear by Elaine Marie Cooper
Part 5 - A Gift from Buckskin Samson by Kathleen Maher
Part 6 - Narrow Passage by Pat Iacuzzi
Part 7 - Through the Storm by Lynn Squire
Part 8 - Christmastide by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Part 9 - Amish Snow by Kelly Long
Part 10 - Epiphany! by Dina Sleiman
A soft whicker and a warm breath preceded a nudge to Buckskin Samson's arm. He knew exactly who it was, U’sti, or “Little One,” and turning to the bay foal standing at his side, he rubbed the broad white path between its eyes, down to the slip of its pink nose. The rascally colt lipped at his fingers and turned sideways, flicking its tail and kicking up its back legs before darting away to its mother. A throaty chuckle rumbled from him and he returned to his work at hand, crafting the deer hide into a pair of soft suede gloves.
Many days had passed since he had joined the fort with the Rousches. The kind family doted on their new addition, a girl born in the winter just like his promising young colt. Appreciation for their acceptance and welcome, as well as a sense of longing, swelled within him at every thought of the hardy German and his French wife. Their friendship meant a great deal, but the desire for family dogged him with the relentless energy of their many children. He had much for which to thank Great Jhezoos, not the least of which included surviving a harsh winter. But he had a new request, too.
Several parties had joined their number in that time—soldiers, guides, travelers, couples, families. And, he hadn’t failed to notice, a few blushing maidens. He looked at the pretty doeskin gauntlets as he worked, and smiled with a glimmer of ambition rising within him. He had noticed a fair-haired a-wo-du-hi a-ta—a beautiful young lady, who had only scraps of old rags to protect her hands from the cold. If the good Lord would smile on Him again, perhaps these gloves would win him the favor of this young beauty, and soon, he would have a family of his own.***
(by Pat Iacuzzi, Dedicated to my Mom, Anna)
You may need to make decisions for yourself soon …
Something Hannah Maclaren had never done in her entire life, for most of the choices controlling her existence had been made for her by someone else. She rubbed the throbbing scar at her wrist—and some of those decisions had been meted out to her in thoughtless and violent ways. From the time she was taken captive by the Shawnee, to the time they’d traded her north to the Seneca and finally exchanged in a captives’ trade as an indentured servant to a German family, Hannah had not made one decision concerning her own life or how she would live it. But since she’d become a bondservant to the Yosts, the elderly couple had treated her tenderly these four years past, more like a daughter than a servant, and with their guidance, her faith in the Lord and her self-reliance had grown. I thankest Thee O Lord, for placing me in their care.
A bleak winter sun bathed the log walls of Fort Providence in a wash of sepia light. Hannah shivered in the bracing January air and lifted the hem of her simple blue linen frock, taking care against the dust that puffed up as she broadened her stride to cross the fort’s parade ground. Her Mistress had given her the dress for Christmas, even as the woman’s thoughts still must have dwelt on her husband’s last days. But Hannah had nothing to give Mütter Yost in return. Nothing to ease her pain or show her how much Hannah loved her.
Master Yost had passed away shortly after they’d taken shelter in the fort. Hannah’s heart swelled at the bittersweet memory, and she swallowed, holding back the sting of tears in the corner of her eyes. For on his deathbed, Master Yost had released Hannah from her contract. She was no longer a bondservant. She was free. And with that freedom Hannah experienced an overwhelming sense of fear and wonder. And therein lay her dilemma—the call to face responsibilities and make decisions for herself.
She shifted the basket of vegetables the generous Mistress Rousch had given her to her other hand and pushed open the plank door of the cabin she shared with Mütter Yost. ’Twas one of several built for settlers’ protection within the fort’s confines. The bottom of the door scraped an arc across the dirt floor as she entered the cabin’s shadowy interior. Mütter sat rocking, a cup of tea in her mitted hands, a broad smile on her face. “We have a guest, child.”
A broad-shouldered figure, his arm draped against the fireplace mantel turned to her, the half-light from the fire dancing over his features.
“LaLoup?” The basket fell from Hannah’s hand, and turnips bounced and scattered along the floor. She ran to him and the scout gathered her in his arms. Hannah closed her eyes as he pressed his cheek against her hair and she inhaled the fresh scents of leather and pine that surrounded him.
He took a step back, held her hands in his warm grip and scoured her with his green-eyed gaze. “Well my (white loon) are you ready to become my bride?”
Almost automatically, Hannah turned to Mütter Yost for her word of direction. What should she do? Somehow she could not start a new life without the acknowledging the old. And she would not leave her Mistress to fend for herself. Not after all she had
meant to Hannah.
The woman took a sip of her tea and with a shaky hand, carefully set it down. She looked up at Hannah, her blue eyes misty. “There is still the cabin and land my husband intended to farm northwest of the Rousch acreage. It awaits a new family as I will have no use for it now, liebschen.”
Hannah knelt before her and took the old woman’s knotted hands in her own. She was certain now what God would have her do. Knowing His Word made her decision so much clearer, so much easier. “Mutter Yost, do you remember what you taught me? When you read to me the story of Ruth? “….Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge: your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Hannah placed the woman’s hand against her cheek. It was cold and rough. “I cannot leave you behind. I want you to come with us. I will care for you as you cared for me.”
She rose and turned to LaLoup. Hannah caught the soft shine of the brushed silver cross glistening against the smooth tan of his chest. It was then she knew trust; that his commitment to her was as strong as his belief in his Savior. He nodded and smiled.
“I love you, LaLoup …and would be honored to be your wife.” Hannah rested her head against his hard chest, and heard the beating of his heart in rhythm with hers. It seemed as if God had placed him in her life like a bulwark, in times of trial and of blessings.
She felt a sense of peace, like a warm blanket envelope them.
(By Carrie Fancett Pagels Dedicated to Ruby Evelyn Skidmore Fancett, descendant of the real life Johan and Susannah Rousch, who spent a season or more in Holman Fort, Shenandoah Valley.)
The long building that served as barracks rattled with each gust of wind outside. Icy sleet pelted the wooden structure drumming a tattoo in Johan Rousch’s head as he stared at their latest newcomer.
“So we are free to return home?” He ran a hand back through his hair. Suzanne would be delighted, as would the children. As for himself, he would no longer have the easy cameraderie of the other men inside the fort.
The young man who’d surveyed their land, years earlier, stood before him in military uniform. “Governor Dinwiddie has sent me to Pennsylvania for discussions with the French. And we believe, based on our scouts’ reports…” The lieutenant glanced from William Christy to Shadrach Clark, both men attired in buckskins, standing just inside the barracks building. LaLoup entered through the center door, chill air accompanying him and stirring the fire. He nodded at Johan and the other scouts but fixed a wary gaze on their newcomer.
“No sign of continued activity.” Colonel Christy, dressed in uniform, shifted and tugged at his collar. “But I shall leave it at your discretion. May be easier for the people to pool their resources inside Fort Providence and return home come spring.”
Johan would miss his friends’ company. “Ja, but already the women, my own included, long to be home. And we have many travelers here whose journeys have been interrupted—they must be allowed to go on their way.”
“We will join with Lt. Washington and his Virginians and follow him into Pennsylvania.” Christy’s crisp tone held a warning.
Johan swallowed. He’d left the Palatinate, a land torn by war—had lost all his older brothers due to invasions from the French. Now, in this new land, he had the sensation of standing on a precipice, one which could affect his entire family and his friends.
The young officer nodded. “I appreciate the company, colonel. Shall you return to your home in Philadelphia, then, after my meeting with the French envoys?”
William Christy’s dark gaze fixed on Johan’s former surveyor. The two men had much in common, yet by appearance one would never guess. Young George Washington, dressed spotlessly, despite his long travel, gave the air of one born unto nobility. Yet it was Christy’s father who served in parliament and held the title of Lord. And the grandson, dressed in buckskins, with a long rifle propped nearby, appeared sprung from the very woods of Virginia.
The two scouts exchanged a glance. Shad caught Johan’s eye.
“Ja, you wish to say something?”
“We’ll take our leave now, if’n you don’t mind—we’ll need our rest.” His lips curved into a disdainful smile, his eyelids half lowered. “Mighty good to see you again, Johan. I’ll be headin’ north as soon as this storm ceases.”
Washington cocked his head at the men. “Under whose order?”
“We don’t take orders.” William’s words were accompanied by the thump of his rifle on the wooden floor of the barracks.
The lieutenant flinched. “You are not attached to a unit?”
Shad sniffed loudly. “Our own unit. We’re scouts—not army nor militia.”
Colonel Christy gave a short laugh. “Perhaps you are asking who is securing their services. I am. My wife still remains with a rebel tribe of Shawnee and Shad and William will be scouting for her.”
The young officer’s face, already pale, blanched further. “Your wife, sir?”
“Yes. And with word coming that many branches of the tribes begin to gather, I wish to ascertain whether she wishes to yet remain among the rebels.”
“Remain?” Washington’s word came out as a croak. “Do you mean she willingly accompanied them.”
“Exactly.” Christy winked. “But perhaps she’s changed her mind by now.”
George lost some of his authoritative veneer which accosted by Christy’s revelation. Johan chuckled. “Don’t worry, lieutenant, she lived among the Indians her entire life.”
Color returned to Washington’s face. “I confess I had no idea. My pardons.”
Christy held up a hand. “No need. What of you, LaLoup?”
The big scout grinned and affixed his gaze on Johan. “I believe after I am wed I will become Mr. Rousch’s neighbor. I am about to take up farming.”
Shad lifted LaLoup into a bear hug and once he released him, William shook the soon-to-be-married scout’s hand.
“I wonder if I surveyed that land, too?” Lt. George Washington whispered into Johan’s ear.
Johan drew back and the two men grinned at each other. He clasped the younger man’s hand. “Ja, probably so—but I have a feeling you are beginning a new stage in your life. May God bless and keep you. And now, I go to check on my wife and new baby—a girl, something new for me, too!”
We sincerely hope our readers have enjoyed our anthology! Many blessings in the year ahead!!!