Posted by Many Flags on December 12, 2000 at 20:50:42:
12 December 1758
The New Cabin in Allemangel
To My Dearest Magdalena,
I write this letter to you nine days before we are to be wed. I have had a most unsettling, yet satisfying experience and I wish to relate it to you, my darling. This message will be placed in the family Bible which I have here in front of me as I write this by candlelight. I am sure you will find it, sometime after we are married, for we will be a Godly couple and the Holy Book will be read. I have no doubt that you read this but I wish you never to reveal to myself or anyone else that you have seen it. It's contents are to be kept in your heart and we will never speak of it.
Yesterday this cabin, to be our new home, was finished and I said my farewells to brother Robert who has traveled back to Northamptontown to his tavern the Cross Keys. I also said farewell, for the time being, to brother Three Tales, for he only lives a few miles away. I spent today doing some final work chinking logs and late this afternoon, tired as I was, I laid down beside the warm fire in the fireplace. Sometime later, I awoke with a start, the fire had died down to coals and I sensed a presence nearby. I reached out and threw a few split pieces of wood on the fire and as it blazed up, I was taken aback. For sitting next to me was a specter. 'Tis the only way I can describe this being.
He was native, an Indian, but his clothing shone and glimmered so I knew he was not of reality. However, I felt not afraid, only amazed and respectful. Time seemed to stand still as I gazed on him and took in all of him, his clothing, his demeanor, the way he sat and gazed at me, his weapons; and I knew, from having been among many Native tribes in my experiences, not only here in Penn's Woods, but also in the colony of New York when we fought at Fort Carillon, that this man was of the Mohicans.
He spoke not to me, not at all during this Revelation. Although I spoke to him at times, he need only stare into my eyes and my heart knew what he thought in answer to my questions. I asked, "Why do you come here?" The Mohican motioned to the fire and I threw a few more small logs on its blaze which made it flare up. There in the fire, I saw scenes of this past year. I saw Tales and our travels through Penns Colony as we scouted for the King's army. I saw our cousins Malcolm, Davey and Seamus and all the adventures we had. At one point, as the aftermath of Fort Carillon appeared and Tales and I disappeared into the Big Woods as we healed our souls, I looked at my hands and they were covered with blood. I cried out in fear but gazed on.
In the fire I saw the good times and bad. The dancing and singing at Fort Ligonier, and the defeat of Grant at Duquesne. I looked on in amazement as the King's troops fell back then recovered at the battle of Fort Ligonier, as we all lay as logs in the company street, wounded and near death. I felt a gasp escape from my mouth, but I was silenced by the Mohican Specter, for he looked at me and I heard his words, although his mouth moved not, "All these great and heroic deeds will be forgotten...unless...." I waited for more but I knew not what he meant.
Time now seemed to move forward and in my mind, I knew the Specter was telling me that all the brave deeds, all the stories of the King's troops, the longhunters, the women and children, the Native nations, all would pass away, unless there were those in the future who would know. Stories of these early days of this land we call America must be passed from generation to generation, from father to son, from mother to daughter, by means of which we have no concept; the stories must be passed on so they are not forgotten. And my question, now loud and demanding, to the Mohican reverberated throughout the cabin, "How are these stories of our heritage to live, O Specter!?"
A thin smile crossed the Mohican's lips and now he pointed to the one window in the cabin, this window which I had covered with a well-honed piece of hide so a bit of light would shine through, opaque it is. And although dark outside, the covered window amazingly lighted up and I saw scenes which made no sense to me, but I write them here. The scenes told a story of a longhunter, his Mohican father and brother, and their fight for their way of life, not so much against the French and so much with the British, but for themselves. There were scenes which we MacWilliams seemed to be part of, scenes which were at once familiar yet strange. Battles at a fort which I could not identify and in a meadow where the King's troops were massacred by Indians, rushing water and canoes, two young lasses whose lives were cherished by the longhunter and his brother, yet tragedy seemed to end this story.
The Mohican Specter once again spoke to my heart and I heard, "But your adventures and others like this longhunter you have seen will live on, if your seed and other seeds remember and tell the stories in reverence and pride. You must tell of the hardships and loves, you must tell of the battles and joys." I was awed by this charge of the Mohican Specter and he motioned for more wood on the fire. As the fire blazed for the last time, I saw people in strange clothing, talking on strange mechanisms, their words appearing on lighted hides as in my cabin window, and the words told of our adventures as we fought the French and Indians, the words told of the stories of this longhunter and his Mohican father and brother.
The Specter spoke to my heart one last time and I knew that we, yes Magdalena, you and I, would have children, whose children's children's children would tell of these times of joy and hardship in these years of the 1700s. And, there would be others whose children's children's children would tell the stories and keep the old ways and good ways alive. I know that I smiled then, and the Mohican Specter smiled back.
I awoke with a start. No specter was present and it must be now long after midnight for the moon is full and high. It is bitter cold out and the fire is once again ablaze and warm. I have lit a candle and I write this letter to you and will place it in the Bible as I have said, for you to find, but to never acknowledge, not even to me. But, I know, my dear Magdalena, that what I have experienced with my cousins and what other longhunters and soldiers and Indian peoples have experienced during these times, will live on.
They will live on as long as people tell the stories with reverence and pride.
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