Gunpowder Trails Chapter Five

Gunpowder Trails

By Andrew Sharp

Gunpowder Trails is a serial novel. It debuted online with chapter one in November 2015, and is slated for release chapter by chapter over the coming months.

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four

Chapter Five

The Appalachies strung their hammocks between trees on a rocky slope near the summit of a mountain, on ground Charles would not have considered a campsite at all. To call it a slope was optimistic; it was more of a dive. Had he tried to sleep there in his usual bedroll, instead of a hammock, he would have been in terror all night, afraid rolling over would put him a thousand yards downhill.

The Appalachies napped in their hammocks in the mid-afternoon sun, except for one sentry. The sentry also lounged in his hammock, but kept his bow on his lap and his eyes open.

The Appalachies did not bother to tie Charles up. To get away, he would have had to climb from rock to rock, and had he tried it, they could have cooked supper, eaten it, taken a nap and then shot him down at their leisure.

The camp was simpler than Charles had expected. He hadn’t given much thought to the Appalachies’ living arrangements, but he had pictured huts of some kind, perhaps a pot of something cooking over a fire, tools scattered around, and people doing primitive activities like making arrows or daubing on face paint.

All this camp consisted of was the hammocks and a pile of wood, which the Appalachies had not lit. Each warrior had a small leather pack tied to his hammock.

There were only ten warriors, so Charles concluded they were heading for some kind of main camp somewhere. It was remarkable this handful of savages had been able to make the smugglers’ lives such a nightmare.

It was almost as if the myths were true, that the Appalachies were part spirit, part body, ethereal people of the woods who could melt away when they needed to and reappear elsewhere. These Appalachies looked pretty solid though, and had not tried any melting as far as Charles had noticed. If they were spirits, they were smelly ones. And their hammocks were pretty ordinary. The one they had given him seemed to be woven out of some kind of plant fiber.

It was comfortable, which freed up his mind to worry without any distractions. What reason could they possibly have for kidnapping him? Were there any of these reasons that did not involve disaster for himself? He thought not.

His first thought, when he had turned around and seen the Appalachies standing behind him, had been, Why me?

His next thought, as they prodded him along through the woods, had been, Why am I not dead yet? He could see why the warrior with the gun hadn’t shot him so close to camp, but the other Appalachies had bows, so it wasn’t like they needed to take him somewhere private to shoot him without drawing attention. Why didn’t they just fill him full of arrows like they had done to Pete and get on with their day?

He didn’t know a word of Appalachie, and in fact had never met anyone who did, so he had no way of getting answers to these questions. The Appalachies made no effort to communicate with him, either. They just jabbered to each other in their twangy, nasally, barbaric language. Occasionally he thought he caught a word that sounded familiar, but it could have just been a chance melding of syllables in the torrent of sound.

The three warriors who captured him herded him farther into the woods, where seven others joined them. They stared at Charles and spoke in an excited and congratulatory gibberish. Then they spoke to Charles, firing one short word at him several times. When he failed to react, they repeated it several more times and jabbed him with a gun barrel by way of illustration, until it dawned on him that the proper interpretation was “move it.” He soon concluded that it meant “move very quickly,” because they kept up a trotting pace that left Charles panting. He had thought his long journey on foot had already toughened him up.

Despite the rush, Charles studied them as he got the chance. They were the first Appalachies he had ever gotten a good look at. He was disappointed they were not the ghostly white of the stories. They were more the color of fine bread, lightly burned. The strangest part about them was their eyes. In the kingdom of Easton, if you passed green or blue eyes in the street, you looked again. But most of these men had eyes in some shade of green or blue.

They wore buckskin, and catskin caps like some of the smugglers, with the added style touch of a claw dangling above each ear.

Their sickly light-colored hair was long, down over their shoulders, and straight. Their goat-like beards drooped far down their chests. One of them had painted his head a blazing red, achieving the effect of a walking fire.

By the time the Appalachies decided to make their mountaintop rest stop, Charles estimated they had already put about twenty miles between them and the smugglers. The halt was well timed, because Charles had just decided he was going to lie down soon, even if they shot him. His legs no longer felt like they were on fire, because they had settled into semi-numbness.

Charles had hung onto the hope as they fled that smugglers might come charging through the trees to rescue him any second, but that hope shriveled as the hours passed. No smuggler ever ventured this far from camp. By now, Charles was just another one of those unfortunates who had disappeared in the last few weeks and would never be seen again.

When they woke up from their naps, the Appalachies stayed in their hammocks, chatting. Charles could tell, to his annoyance, that they were often talking about him.

The one closest to Charles was the man with painted red hair. The dying beams of the day’s sunshine made the man’s beard glow, and as Charles looked at it he realized with amazement that the hair wasn’t painted at all. It was simply red. Did any of them have blue hair, or green? Charles didn’t realize he was gawping at the man until the Appalachie imitated him, staring back at him with big frog eyes and mouth agape, and laughed. Charles quickly looked away.

For supper they ate pemmican, and handed a little to Charles. The recipe tasted about like the smugglers’ pemmican, with possibly a little more fat in it and another flavor Charles couldn’t identify, some kind of herb. The seasoning did not do much to disguise the familiar nasty taste.

As twilight deepened, Charles began to wonder if the Appalachies would ever light a fire. He imagined hanging in his hammock in the pitch black, straining his ears for the padding of cat footsteps or claws tearing at the bark of his tree. He wondered if maybe this was why the Appalachies hadn’t killed him. Perhaps they were performing some kind of religious ceremony involving leaving him there in the dark to be eaten, while they went over the mountain and started a nice roaring fire.

To his great relief, when it was almost dark they did light a fire. So that was why the smugglers never saw any smoke from any Appalachie fires. The savages waited to start their fires until the sky was darker than the smoke column would be, and probably got up at dawn to put them out.

Charles did not sleep well. For hours he stared up at the dark leaves, the glowing sliver of crescent moon sometimes peeking through. Crickets rasped, owls hooted, and occasionally a sentry coughed or stirred the fire. Eventually he dozed in and out, dreaming that the Appalachies had set up a village on the edge of Easton, where the huts were made out of giant mushrooms, and he and the other children went to play football even though the adults told them it was dangerous, and George was there, playing goalie, and then Jeff came to warn them that soldiers were coming.

Between dreams like this, he despaired of ever getting any real sleep, and was surprised to wake up a short time later and find that it was getting light, and the Appalachies were putting out the fire.

They soon set off again at what Charles was disappointed to find was their habitual rapid pace. It wasn’t as if they were in a hurry; they just strode along as if it had not occurred to them that anyone might want to walk slower. If they noticed Charles dropping behind, they poked him with their weapons to remind him that this was no time for ambling.

By noon, ferocious barking from camp dogs greeted the travelers, and then sad-eyed hounds with jutting ribs jumped around them, growling at Charles and then yelping as the Appalachies kicked them away.

The camp wasn’t much, only a handful of skin tents ringing a central stone fire pit. Women, children, and a handful more warriors came out to meet them, jabbering their twangy speech.

Charles did some quick counting and figured there were about twenty warriors total, and maybe fifty or sixty people in all with the women and children. The small children, boys and girls, all wore skirts, and they ran around him in circles much like the camp dogs had done, jumping and shouting and pointing. The adolescent boys wore buckskin trousers like the men, though they were all shirtless. The women and girls, Charles was interested to note, wore about as much clothing as women in Easton. The rumor that Appalachies ran around half naked was mostly untrue, then.

Many of the women wore necklaces made of colored glass beads, probably ground out of the bottles and glass shards that could be found everywhere in ancient town sites. Some women wore dangling glass earrings as well.

The adults, unlike the shouting children, looked at Charles with narrowed eyes, giving him the kind of calculating look a murderer might use when evaluating the most effective spot to stick a dagger.

A tall, stocky Appalachie with a giant black beard stepped forward. He settled down on a stone by the fire ring, and another warrior grabbed Charles by the shoulders and pushed him down onto another stone on the opposite side of the fire.

Charles could not understand what he was seeing. The man was as dark-skinned as he was, with eyes so brown they were almost black, and the familiar light-colored palms of normal hands.

“Well now,” the man said in good Easton, with a rural accent not very different from the one spoken around Trappe. “What do we have here?”

After a pause, he said, “Might want to shut that mouth before something flies in.”

“But, but, who — how —?”

The man laughed. “Roger’s my name.” He seemed to be searching for words. “You will have to pardon me if I’m a little rusty with my Easton. I don’t use it very often.”

“But how, why, are you here?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” Roger said. “Me, I guess I’m one of those lost woodsmen you hear about. One of those who went out in the woods and never came back. Died a horrible death at the hands of the, uh, what do people call them, the Appalachies. To tell you the truth, I came very close to doing that, but that’s another story for another time.”

Charles glanced around, and lowered his voice. “So … you can’t leave?”

Roger shrugged. “I guess I could. I don’t want to. By the way, you don’t have to worry about them understanding you. They don’t know any Easton besides ‘My name is Roger and I mean no harm.’ But as far as leaving goes, fact is, son, life here is a lot better than scrapping by in those disease-infested villages trying to get enough money to pay taxes and then just when you pay up, you get conscripted into the army. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly why I left.”

“It’s better living with savages?”

Roger frowned. “You oughtn’t to call them that. They are good people. But no, I didn’t come out here to live with them. I came out to live on my own in the wilderness where no king can tell me what to do. Didn’t think too much about the people already living here. But enough about me. What about you? You’re pretty small for a smuggler. How’d you get mixed up in that?”

“I am not a smuggler,” Charles said. “I’m a slave to a smuggler.” This seemed to be an important point to make. Now that he was over his shock at meeting a fellow Easton out in the wilderness, thoughts of what might be in store for him came rushing back, and his pulse started pounding faster. “What are you going to do to me? Why didn’t they … why am I still …” Charles hesitated, unsure whether it was smart to remind his captors that they didn’t usually take prisoners.

“Why didn’t they shoot you full of arrows and leave you for the cats to find? We’ll get to that,” Roger said. “So, you’re working on your big dream of becoming a real smuggler someday, are you?” He said “smuggler” the way other people said “plague sore.”

“No,” Charles said. “No. I am going to …” he stopped. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do if he ever got free from all the smugglers and Appalachies who seemed to be lining up for a chance to hold him captive. But he did know one specific. “I’m not going to be a smuggler, whatever I do. I’m not going to spend one more minute on the gunpowder trails.”

“Right,” Roger said. “And the smugglers will just let you walk away, even though you know so much about them you could get them all killed if you spill the beans on them. I suppose you’ll go to town and set up as a house servant, which will be way better than being a forest servant.”

“Not a servant,” Charles said. “Something else.”

Roger shook his head and looked at him with a half smile. “You poor little slave.”

Charles tightened his fist. That was all he did, though, because Roger was pretty large and had a long knife strapped to his waist.

As he sized up Roger, Charles noticed two familiar looking packs leaning against a tree behind him, one with a tin medallion dangling off it. His stomach fell. He had seen that before. It was old Jumpy’s. When they found him dead a couple years ago, he’d been stripped of his weapons and pack.

So these Appalachies had harassed the smugglers before. This man may even have killed Jumpy himself.

Roger followed his glance, and gave an ugly smile when he saw Charles’ wide eyes. “You’ve seen those packs before, have you?”

Roger was a traitor to his kind, an Easton man who lived with the white savages and killed his own people. Charles had known, theoretically, that he was among people who must have killed smugglers. But seeing the trophies displayed here gave him a strange slurry of emotion: hatred, anger, fear and bewilderment to find himself identifying with the smugglers.

Roger said, “So you’re not one of them. But you sure get upset when they get killed. And you’re telling me you’re just a prisoner, held against his will by the awful smugglers and forced to go on the trail, huh? Or you’re just saying that so we’ll let you go.”

“They’ve treated me well,” Charles said, breathing fast. Yes, he was upset about Jumpy and Pete and the others who had died, people he’d shared life with. That didn’t make him a smuggler. That didn’t mean he was one of them, or that he was content with being a slave.

Roger switched to chatting with the Appalachies, then turned to Charles again.

“Chief is on the way, and we’ll grill you more when he comes. Until then, you can just sit here or wander around the camp. Just don’t try to run away. Chief wants you alive.”

“I’m not going to tell him anything,” Charles said.

Roger grinned. “Oh, I think if he wants you to talk, you’ll talk,” he said, holding his knife blade out over the coals and watching a small blue tongue of flame lick around it. “But we already know about as much as we need to about your bunch. Still, I hope you’ll tell us the truth.”

Charles was again puzzled at his emotions. He was no smuggler, so he should have no shame in telling the Appalachies what they wanted to know. Why should they be his enemies? And yet he felt somehow that he should refuse to talk, that to cooperate with the Appalachies or join their side would be treachery. He put his face in his hands.

Roger now spoke to a small boy, about ten or eleven years old, with almost white blond hair down to his shoulders. The boy’s ribs showed clearly. They didn’t overeat in this camp.

The boy motioned Charles to follow.

“South Wind here will show you around camp,” Roger said. “He’ll show you where you’ll sleep. And don’t try to sneak off. South Wind is pretty good with a knife.”

He spoke to South Wind again, and the boy laughed, pulled a knife out of his belt, flipped it into the air and caught it by the handle again, without seeming to make any effort. Charles was impressed. It took a little of the sting out of being assigned such a puny bodyguard, although not all of it.

The boy strutted through the camp, leading Charles and a procession of chattering camp children. Charles noticed as he looked around that the Appalachies seemed to have been at the campsite for some time. The ground in front of the tents was packed down, and well-worn trails led off into the woods, among a scattering of stumps with chop marks.

The tents were large, with straight walls and sloped roofs made of stitched hides. Each tent roof had another little tent on top, which puzzled Charles until he realized it must be a cover to keep rain out of the smoke holes. Smoke was pouring out from under the covers now, along with the smell of roasting meat. A pang shot through his stomach, reminding him he hadn’t eaten since morning.

Charles noted several other fire spots around the outer edge of the circle of tents, where the savages must stoke fires at night to keep the cats away. The dogs would help keep the cats away too, he guessed. Fierce as the cats were, they would usually run from a pack of dogs.

The boy came to a dingy tent with spider webs over the doorway, and pointed at it. Charles peered into its dark interior and hesitated. Was he supposed to go in there? He looked at the boy, who just stared back.

Charles remembered now how weary his legs were, but he was reluctant to enter the tent, which reeked of old deer fat and wood smoke and had who knew what inside it. So he just sat down with his back against one of the tent poles. He found himself at the center of a ring of grinning children, with South Wind seated in the center, his arms crossed, stern in his sentry duty.

They were a motley group, with long tangled hair and ragged, dirty clothing. They were light brown like the warriors, an unhealthy pale tone that looked as if they had some kind of terrible disease that had leeched the color out of their skin and hair. Where their clothes were torn, even whiter skin shone out. Many of them had yellowish hair, some had very light brown hair and there were a few more of the absurd red-haired ones too. Surely only a disease or malnourishment would do that to hair.

Tired of being the circus bear for these children, he crawled into the privacy of the tent and shut the flap, wondering if this would meet South Wind’s sentry surveillance standards. The children increased their chatter, but nobody followed him in.

It was dim in the tent, with a glow from the smoke hole in the roof, and he listened carefully to make sure he was the only inhabitant. The tent appeared to have been vacant for a while, and anything might have crawled in here — snakes, dogs, mice, spiders. He heard nothing rustling, and gradually as his eyes adjusted, he began to make objects out in the gloom. A couple of sturdy poles supported the beam of the roof, and in the center was a ring of stones for a fireplace. There was plenty of space. He wondered why it was empty. Maybe one of the warriors had died recently and they hadn’t gotten around to taking this tent down yet. Or maybe they kept an extra tent handy for prisoners, a sort of town jail.

He found a bundle of fur, seemingly an heirloom of sorts, holding the musty smell of many nights of dried sweat. Charles shook it out to make sure nothing was living in it, then checked the floor to make sure nothing was living under it. Then he flattened out the fur, stretched out, and closed his eyes.

He woke up to the tent door flying open and sunlight streaming in. He sat up and covered his eyes.

“Wake up, sleepy!” Roger boomed. “Hope you’re all rested. The chief would like to ask you some questions. Well come on, don’t just sit there blinking, get a move on!”

Charles staggered out into the sunlight, where South Wind was still vigilant at his post. Followed by South Wind, Charles followed Roger across the camp toward the fire ring. Charles’ mouth was dry and cracked like an empty stream bed, his stomach screamed at him, and his thoughts struggled to reassemble themselves out of sleep. It was late afternoon, the sunlight golden and drowsy.

A muscular man whom Charles took to be the chief sat by the fire, surrounded by warriors, warming his hands and watching Charles walk toward him. The chief’s face was mostly hidden by long brown hair and a bushy beard with streaks of gray in it. It was hard to read his expression, but his eyes looked sly and calculating, like the rest of the Appalachies. He was dressed about the same as the others, except that he wore a necklace with the white skull of a cat dangling from it.

The Appalachies drew in around Charles as he and Roger arrived at the fire, warriors closest and the women and children on the edges, peering around.

“This,” Roger said, “is chief Running Elk.”

Charles wondered how he was supposed to address the chief. Bow? Wave? Eager not to offend, he eyed Roger to see what he would do, but Roger just stood by Charles’ side. Deciding to play it safe, Charles bowed deeply from the waist.

Laughter broke out around the group, and he straightened up quickly, blushing. The chief, also smiling a little, held his hand up to his forehead and shoved it outward stiffly, a gesture Charles had not seen before. But not knowing what else to do, he repeated it. The crowd made approving sounds, amid more laughter, to Charles’ relief.

A number of warriors had taken seats around the fire, and so Charles began to sit down as well on a nearby stone. But Roger prodded him.

“Don’t get too comfortable, little slave,” he said. “Nobody said you could sit down.”

The chief, no longer smiling, spoke at length to Roger, who listened and nodded.

“All right, little smuggler,” he said then to Charles. “How many men are in your band? Be careful to tell us only the truth.”

“Thirty, or something like that. I can’t remember exactly. They aren’t all men, though.”

Roger conferred with Running Elk, who nodded.

“How much sulfur do you have?”

“Not very much.”

Roger knelt and held his knife in the fire, then pulled it out and examined it, turning it different directions. It was glowing.

“How much?” he said again, looking Charles in the eye.

“We really didn’t have much,” Charles said, his voice shaking. Roger took a step toward him. “About twenty packs’ worth!” He would cooperate. The smugglers could deal with the consequences.

“The trading was bad, it wasn’t much,” he babbled, desperate to make Roger believe him. “Could hardly get any sulfur, and we had so few men left after the ambush —” he stopped. They wouldn’t know what ambush he was talking about. “Other years, we had about fifty packs, but this year, it was bad.”

Twenty packs of sulfur would still be a huge haul for a band of Appalachies, he realized.

Roger talked with the chief again. They seemed satisfied.

“He thinks you’re telling the truth,” Roger said. “I guess we’ll see.”

Charles, who had been watching Roger’s knife, felt a rush of relief.

“Now,” Roger went on, “he wants to know why your band thinks you can just go marching through our land.”

“Your land?” Charles said. He didn’t know what Roger was talking about. “We never came through this village. We’re just passing through these mountains, way over there.” He waved in the direction of the smugglers.

Roger swept his arm out in a wide circle. “All this land belongs to us. Our forest. Our deer and wild boar. You are trespassing.”

“But … but you can’t just claim all the mountains,” Charles said. “It’s ridiculous. This is wilderness. Empty woods. There’s way more than you need. There are only a few of you, and you move around all the time.”

“This whole woods is our home,” Roger said. “We hunt. These trees are our fields. You barge through here and shoot our animals, never asking.” His words were sharp and loud. “Typical darkskins. You think the world is yours, and you can just take whatever you can reach.” It was strange to hear him speak as if he weren’t an Easton himself, and dark as Charles.

“Your people claim a lot of land along the bay there,” Roger went on, “even though they don’t use all of it. And now they come walking through this forest of ours like they own it, like we’re the ones trespassing on their back woodlot. Some kind of arrogance.”

It was ridiculous, Charles thought, this handful of savages claiming more territory than Easton and Scranton combined, but they were holding weapons and he wasn’t, so he dropped the argument.

“Why did you kidnap me?” he asked instead. “Are you just going to kill me now that you’ve asked me some questions?”

Roger laughed. “Oh no, we didn’t kidnap you to ask you questions. We’re happy to have you give us helpful information, though. Tell me, who is your master? Some weak smuggler who can’t carry his pack, and needs your help?”

Charles stood up straight. “My master is the chief of the band.”

Roger smiled. “Ah, very good!” He turned to the chief and spoke, and smiles spread around the group. Some of the women clapped their hands.

“So, slave to the leader of the band,” Roger said, “he must want you back. We were worried we would have to discard you, since you claim not to be a real smuggler, but as the chief man’s slave, you must be worth some sulfur. If your good friends the smugglers don’t see it that way,” he shrugged, “well, we will just have to discard you after all.” He made a gesture with his finger across his throat. “What do you think, slave, will they trade many packs of sulfur for you?”

Charles was aghast. He couldn’t picture George agreeing to giving up sulfur for this kind of extortion, even if the Appalachies had kidnapped several of the band and not just a slave. A payoff would only encourage the Appalachies to repeat the stunt, and the smugglers would end up arming their enemies. He remembered back in Scranton, when George had made that extra trip despite the danger just to add a couple of packs of sulfur to their haul.

Charles knew how the smugglers would think. Charles had been caught alone in the woods, they would reason, which was the same as death. Whether it meant death then or later was up to the Appalachies, but it wasn’t the smugglers’ problem.

“Ah, of course,” he said. “Yes, many packs of sulfur.”

Roger eyed him. “Hmm. I hope you are right.”

Charles’ mouth was dry. “How … how do you plan to get in touch with the smugglers?” he said. “You can’t just walk in there. They’ll shoot you.”

Roger smiled. “Oh, that will be no problem at all.”

Alone that night in his tent, Charles stoked a small fire in the fire ring. He didn’t need it for safety. The Appalachies had already lit the sentry fires, and he could see the light from the flames flickering on the wall of the tent. But he had slept by a fire for months now, and with his eyes closed and the heat and crackle of the fire next to him, it felt almost like he was back at the smugglers’ camp. Strange, that a place he had hated seemed like home.

Charles wondered where the band was by now. He had been gone more than a day. If they had shot any game at the water hole, they must be drying the meat now and soon would be ready to go on the trail again. He wondered if they even missed him much. Gary probably wouldn’t be all that sad. Marguerite? She seemed to hate him as much as anyone. George would resent the insult of somebody killing his slave. Would he feel anything else?

Charles could not let this be his miserable end, alone out here in the wilderness, his throat slit by a bunch of savages because he wasn’t worth enough of the miserable sulfur he hated. He tried to come up with an alternate plan.

He wondered if he could just live with the Appalachies, although that would mean giving up everything he really enjoyed. His thoughts drifted back now to the library at George’s estate in Trappe. He couldn’t imagine never seeing it again, never reading another book.

The best times in Charles’ life, since George had bought him, had been during the winter when the smugglers stayed home, feet up by a fire while sleet beat on the windows. At George’s estate, house servants took care of most of the menial chores. Charles ran errands for George, delivering letters or memorized messages, and making the kind of discreet purchases a smuggler needed, but didn’t want to make himself because of the risk.

George made use of Charles’ mechanical aptitude, letting him tinker with useful items for the estate like lanterns or crab traps or other gadgets. Charles had come up with an efficient water pump he was particularly proud of, and was also experimenting with making clocks like they had in Easton.

He enjoyed that kind of work, but the evenings were the best, went George allowed Charles free time and he went straight to the library.

Charles read anything, but especially books about math and science, like biology, chemistry and physics. Invention fascinated him. One of his favorite books was “Learn From the Past, and Repeat It,” an old volume by a philosopher and archeologist named Phil, which held out the tantalizing promise of a new world.

George didn’t mind Charles using his library, especially if it made him a happier slave, and he also found it useful to have a person of letters around the house who saved him the money and risk of hiring a scribe.

Charles had daydreamed about working as a scribe for George, after he was free. During the summers, when George was away, he could serve as his estate manager, and have plenty of time to study. Charles had not yet had the nerve to ask about such a job, and now it didn’t seem likely he ever would.

He could argue to the Appalachies that he hated the smugglers, that he would make a useful addition to their band or even a good slave. He hated the idea of groveling, and wished he had the nerve to just die like a man. But he wished even more to live. Even living in the endless forest with nothing to do but hunt would be better than dying.

When savages had captured Roger years ago, somehow he had convinced them not to kill him. Maybe Roger, remembering that, would have sympathy for him now. He would ask Roger in a roundabout way how he had survived, and try to enlist his help.

Failing everything else, Charles would watch for a chance to escape. He tossed around a few ideas, but if he was realistic most of them ended with him pursued by a pack of irate Appalachies who knew the woods better than he did. Even if he somehow evaded the savages, he wouldn’t be able to get back to the smugglers’ camp before dark.

But he may as well die running as standing still.

Charles did not sleep well.

To be continued

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four


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