The Lad from Pointe de Bute (Chapters 13-14)
Historical Fiction for Young Readers 8-12
FROM POINTE DE BUTE
Esther and Richard Provencher
© 2014-17 by Esther and Richard Provencher
Dester Publications. All rights reserved
This story, one day in the young life of John Trenholm Jr. is written for Esther, my wife born in Cape Spear, New Brunswick to the family of Thornton Ogden and Dorothy (Allen) Ogden on their 96 acre Cape Spear farm along the shores of Northumberland Strait, New Brunswick.
of the Yorkshire Trenholm(e) family
and their descendents:
John; sons, Edward, Matthew and John Jr.
sailed from Liverpool, England
March 16, 1772
on the Duke of York, arriving
in Acadia (Nova Scotia) May 21, 1772.
The setting for this novel is the
Cape Chignecto area of Nova Scotia
later called, New Brunswick.
The thought that Inverma farm once belonged to my friend Robert was almost unbearable.
It was a burden of information that must be shared with Da and Mum. Would Da believe the details of what Monsieur Mercier spoke to me? Did Bastien even watch from the edge of this property line and gaze fondly at the trees as I?
I pretended to be that boy, not much younger than myself. He probably leaned on this log fence, feeling the wood brace roughly against his chest.
Summer was passing slowly, and soon it would be Autumn-time. Then red and yellow maple leaves would curl up and windy currents toss the branches to and fro.
I watched a daring Finch bobbing, much like a cork on the ocean waves, its tiny feet grasping a slim branch. I began to feel a chill. Perhaps our family should not remain here before October arrived.
If this was not meant to be our true home, then we should leave before we are tempted by the beauty of a Fall day. I was indeed struck by the magnificence of this land.
Should we mayhap return to Yorkshire? And grow up wondering how different a life might I have in this new land. What about Mattie?” I wondered. There was a chill in the air and knew I should return home and retrieve a warm coat. I brushed away a few pesky mosquitoes trying to make my life worse than miserable.
Yes, if we are to remain in this land for a while longer, Mattie and I must begin our defenses.
It was not my wish to have any British soldier try and separate my family. We have to help Da and Mum. I knew that my tree hideout was a proper observation post that would serve us well. It would provide sufficient space to cast our eyes and notice any uncommon sights. Plans had to be made.
And so I left the shadows of the back yard and returned to Inverma Farm. Mum and Da greeted me with an understanding look. Little did I know how swiftly events would overtake even the best intentions and desires of me, along with my friend.
Again I asked myself, where had Monsieur Mercier buried the son he cherished? It was a lasting thought as my head rested on my pillow after which the moon shone with a brightness that affected my sleep.
And my dreams were not a comfort to me…
…Tossing about in a frenzy of unsettlement this night, I dreamed about a snowfall as thunderous as crashing waves upon the shore.
The covering of hills with whiteness could still be seen from a far distance.
Like a huge treat of whipped cream piled higher and higher, reaching far into the sky.
Someone held my hand tightly. Was it Mum? I dared not awaken, as I continued to dream.
Then, I was being pulled along, me having difficulty lifting one foot higher than the next. The snow was very deep. After pushing forward, my next raised step dropped ever deeper, leaving behind a huge hole. It looked large enough for a fox to hide in and claim it as his home. It seemed as a sky full of white clouds had fallen upon the earth.
The snowstorm covered everything. Wherever Mum and I searched, people poked heads through the crust, like beaver from beneath the lake surface.
Except on this occasion everything seemed turned upside down. As I felt the pangs of hunger, I seemed foolish in my thinking.
“When are we going to have some porridge,” I dared asked Mum as we trudged along.
Then darker thoughts entered my head.
“A Company of enemy soldiers advancing on Inverma Farm.” I could see them in my mind’s eye from the lofty protection of my tree. It was a most unpleasant notion to enter my head before I thankfully fell asleep on my pillow.
“I must protect Da…” were my very last words.
In my next day at school-time, I found myself not so popular with questions from my mates.
To my dismay, others did not wish to be reminded of the past. Fitfully I had spoken to Da about my concerns.
“Many of these farms were purchased from Planters wishing to return to the Thirteen Colonies,” he remarked. “Try not taking too much stock in what the man said,” he scolded. “You should be filled with the ramblings of youth, and let these serious matters occupy the minds of your elders.”
Then looking deep into my eyes, Da said very solemnly, “Johnny, Inverma is our farm. Let that not be a question for you to consider.” Then he did something special that I often bring to mind.
Da took me into his arms and gave me a fatherly hug. I remember that moment, keeping my eyes to the ground, ashamed of wanting to leave my beloved home. I could see the looks on some of the men as they watched Da lumber about as a proud bull.
Yes he was a huge man but not fatty like some may have thought. To me he was simply my Da, a big man. And I loved him.
“Now hasten to your chores,” Da quickly added before returning to his own duties.
“Ta-Rah” I called after him.
Then I looked in my carrying bag, wondering what Mum had made for my lunch. All this talk was enough to turn my head. And I was still unsettled from my chat with Monsieur Robert.
As I turned into the chicken coop, I knew something was amiss.
Feathers lay everywhere and the hens cowered in one corner. Their usual greeting was simply a nervous shuffling of wings. Across the floor lay the remains of several carcasses. And there were others from Mum’s prize brood that had been carried off by foxes. It was my challenge to secure the fencing.
This beast from the forest was too often a bother. I saw where a hole had been chewed out. They were becoming more than a nuisance, since it meant less money for needful item, when Mum traded her eggs.
Indeed, it was my task to protect the hens.
I murmured a silent vow to use double strands of wire. Sad moments surrounded me, as I gazed about. My duties included protecting the hens, and I had failed in this most important task.
Eggs were also a proper meal for our family and the loss would be felt in days to come.
I had terrible images about what I would like to do to that fox. And if accompanied by his family, they should also pay for this thieving.
At that moment cold chills ran races across the bare skin of my back. It frightened me to think about how easily this turmoil of rage had arisen.
Would I make a good soldier in the face of battle? I wondered.
Just then a face poked its sunless face from between the thick pine. I knew it was Tommy. He was a pesky lad, and for some strange reason, wanting to follow me of late.
Perhaps his desire was the need for an older brother. And I was the chosen one. Or he simply desired company and become my friend. But I have the good company of one, I surmised.
Mattie’s friendship was sufficient for me. And yet, there arose a thought that beat against my skull. What if Mattie and I took him into our confidence? And swore him to secrecy? Then there would be three of us to observe whether any foreign person invaded Inverma Farm.
I must share these thoughts with Mattie. At the time I thought the idea had merit.
Military stories now became a source of much speculation in the local communities.
It was said the 42nd Highlanders sent from England in 1773 were to provide additional strength for an assembly of forces. Everyone knew it was to confront the Thirteen Colonies and that a Revolutionary War was at hand. But the certainty of conflict was only whispered in quiet corners.
I learned to listen intently when the men spoke in hushed tones, sharing tidbits of news with Da. We came to know supplies began to arrive at Halifax harbor in a furious succession of ships.
Halberts, drums, firelocks, bayonets and cartridge boxes were to supply the 55th Regiment of Foot, under the command of Captain Johnny Taylor.
As the cadence of war approached, men from the farms and villages were in fear for their children. They worried their young sons would be drawn into choosing sides in battle.
“It is not uncommon for growing boys and able bodied men to be pressed into military service,” Da said. Heads of families, men of valor from their own wars in England, also cringed as they spoke of this in their own homes.
What they had been desperate to leave behind now followed them to this new wilderness land.
Mattie was such a good friend, always on the lookout for my good health. She had come upon me quite suddenly by my tree fort, as I pondered.
“You’re in enough trouble Johnny,” she scolded. “Now you are in rebellion against your father’s wishes.” She looked furiously beautiful as she stood one hand on her hip, a scowl crossing her face.
Yet she smiled, and aye, when she did the thoughts of war or the scolding from a young lady simply allowed me to regroup.
“And I do not want ye to leave,” she whispered.
“But it is not my intention to listen to my father on this subject!” I stamped my foot in a haughtiness that surprised me. I desired not to return to Yorkshire.
“This is the land I wish to live on.” was my rant.
I knew somehow I must convince Da, not to send me away from the dangers that lurk like a tiger in this area.”
“You too have a taste of painful times. How does your father come about?” I dared to change the direction of our talk, asking about his condition since the accident.
“They did take his arm off in Halifax.” Mattie’s voice spoke so softly, Johnny had to lean far forward to hear.
“Which arm was it?” was the second question from my lips. I knew the man was friendly in his ways, always shaking everyone’s hand and slapping friends on shoulders. This affliction would now be bothersome. And I wondered if it was his...
Closing my eyes, I wished with all my heart it were not his right hand, the strongest one. It had proven to be hardy among the villagers more than once in hand wrestling contests.
“It was the right arm,” Mattie said quickly. Then she left me standing by the tree, and turned to return to her own farm.
“I thought you were going to help me seek out enemy soldiers,” I complained. “We have to do this together Mattie,” I said, shrugging my shoulders helplessly.
I knew it best to be soon checking the hen house, making sure the fencing was holding fast. And I was shy with my poor concerns about her father. But then so many things were a twirl about my person.
“Tomorrow,” she answered. “I’ll be here tomorrow. And I promise to have a more cheerful attire, my good friend Johnny.”
Those spoken words now brought a smile of delight my face. Then Mattie left quickly as if preparing for another race across the field. Her hearty laughter carried a long way, as she ran towards home.
“Ta-rah,” I said softly since I missed having her friendship at this moment. With heavy heart I don’t know how I managed to climb the tower. It was done with a sure step, one at a time. It was with difficulty I recalled our spoken words these last few moments.
Did I tread on a sorry wound? What else could I ask, about her father’s hand? I was simply curious.
But then she did say, “My good friend.” And suddenly the day did bring about some extra sunshine.
Now where was Tommy? I inquired, looking about.
The lad did not understand how bothersome he could be. He was always spying on me and trying to catch my eye from the woods, or silent upon the field like a curious mouse. I wished the boy were here right now. He was a helpful ally in our small force.
“I must inquire if he is capable of climbing a tall tree and hanging on for dear life in the raging wind,” were words spoken from the past.
The thought brought on a smile.
My eyes searched all around. It was now left up to me to take charge from my observation post. And I must make sure no enemy troops are assembled in the grounds next to the woods at the edge of our farm.
If any horse movements or cannon were to be pulled in this direction, I could claim my shouts of, “Their arrival is upon us!”
As a boy, I was not realizing the game was far more serious than this child-like plan of mine. Unknown to me during those boyhood moments, men would die in coming engagements. And then become far more real than my imaginary quest to be a protector of our farm.
“Hail to the Protectors of Inverma Farm!” I shouted for the moment. I was determined to do my duty. “TA-RAH!” was my shout of vainglory and that call crossed the grassland, entered a narrow valley and returned louder than the last exclamation.
After raising a shout I would climb down and join the defenders of our honor. But now my tum was grumbling. Surely it must be time to eat.
As I carefully climbed down the ladder from my outpost, a tumble of thoughts crossed my mind. I promised to be more patient with Johnny who indeed needed a good mate. And to my mind Mattie was a bonny girl.
I vowed to ask Mum if both of us could share sup on the morrow.
The final two Chapters 15-16 and Epilogue are the End of this story found on ABCTales.com.One day we hope to have a print publisher publish this book. We wiish you to enjoy reading it.