The Lad from Pointe de Bute (Chapters 15-16-End)
A 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.
Another adventure had awaited me as I stood before a cave.
Monsieur Mercier suggested we come, and his manner at the time was most mysterious. He said he changed the resting place of his son a week after the wee lad was laid to rest. And it had caused him much grief.
I surmised he was taking me to Bastien’s second resting place, excitement taken a hold of me.
Yet it was not an occasion to glory about.
In the nearby woods, on many a silent night British Marines may have stood to watch for their prey. Johnny imagined the patience they would have to endure, and not find their man.
“Yes,” Monsieur Robert had said, as if reading my confused mind. “British soldiers did wait patiently many nights for someone to visit the freshly dug grave they found. They knew I, the father would come back. But I did not so long as those soldiers stood close by.”
My head shook in agony as I listened to the tale.
Then he paused and wiped his brow. “After a period of time, they gave up. And I took the occasion to move my son’s burial ground.”
Was it to this location the man and boy was now making haste?
Johnny remembered how Monsieur Robert helped him over some fallen rocks. They had rolled up their trouser legs and sloshed along the shore for some time. Then ahead, along the rocky outline of shore, darkness hid the cave. And he clambered after his friend who began to climb.
The first thing the boy saw farther back within the cave, in open view on a shelf was a small skull.
Did this really belong to Bastien, the boy from the diary? It was a scary thought that hurried through the mind of Johnny.
“No,” Monsieur Robert said. “This child’s skull does not belong to my son. But I wanted you to know how desperate we were in those days of escape. This child must surely have hidden in fear, separated from family and starving himself rather than be captured by the soldiers. Years ago, the rest of his bones were on a lower shelf. But the sea had arisen even higher over the years. And I thought it best to respect this cave as the boy’s burial ground.”
I clasped my hands and covered my eyes at first, afraid to shame this poor soul, not even having the goodness of soil to cover his soul. And it was most difficult to hold my tongue. Wait until I bring Mattie to this location?
He was sure Mum and Da would understand why their son embarked on this adventure to clear up some nagging questions. He knew it was his duty to find out the truth.
“Many years have I suffered,” Monsieur Mercier said, shuffling about. “And my children, my family, all gone these long years. I was a young farmer then, now such an old man.”
Johnny had watched, fascinated by the tears that began in the corner of the older man’s eyes. He really didn’t wish to stay and watch the proud man cry in front of him. Men do cry was a roaring through Johnny’s brain. He wiped a dry finger across his own moist face.
Like a Trembling Aspen Robert had wept openly until tears became a waterfall, down cracked skin. And he lowered his head even further.
The boy felt a twitch jab one of his legs. Arising from a crouched position Johnny moved toward his friend. Astonished at his bold action, he laid a hand of comfort on the man’s shoulder. Now they were bonded.
“It’s okay,” the boy heard himself murmur.
Then he kept his silence. It did not seem proper to interrupt this moment. Above, clouds seemed to wrestle across the sky, as a pinpoint of light shone through, signaling dusk’s arrival.
Johnny knew he should be scooting home.
Mum’s voice carried across the wind. Sup was waiting.
Da was kept busy on our farm that day growing wheat, barley, oats, hay and potatoes. And I was of most use watching out for our three pigs, herding cattle and feeding the chickens. He came aside me as I whistled a happy tune to overcome the sadness of Mr. Mercier. But then, I knew it was his pleasure to speak the tale aloud to one who reminded him of his own dear son.
And it pleased me that I was such a one.
On Saturday night, baked beans with molasses along with a piece of salt pork, was a feast. The abundance of this meal was evident in the second helping, even I requested. As was my usual custom, my vest earned several spots of spilled beans I tried to scrub off with my thumbnail, making a more noticeable mess. Now it matched the caked mud on the lower lag of my pants.
A cup of tea brought my mind back to the table, and quickly drinking it, excused myself in a hurry to visit the privy.
I couldn’t even think of my brothers laying in their own blood, green grass stained and soaking up their young lives. What about the bones of Bastien? Did it take long for his skin to rot off? These thoughts were most unpleasant for a young boy, but not for a stalwart soldier in the defense of his home.
A Planter’s Wart was most annoying and after that hearty meal, my painful expression brought on attention I did not wish.
And the recipe for its disappearance was even the more difficult for me. Mum had to mash cloves and garlic then cover the offending part of my foot.
Each night I had to keep on the dressing, and for the next two weeks it was most regretful, with my anxious tossing about. Somehow the offending part under my skin was taken away and I was able to skip around the farm without irritation.
All of those thoughts and incidents continued to occupy my mind as I skipped along the trail aside the men working on the ocean shore.
Looking about, I was pleased to see only a few crows heard my oft spoken aloud words.
Shouting warnings should anything be amiss seemed like a mountain of responsibility for Mattie, Johnny and I.
But then, these were hardy times. And while we made plans to protect my family members, I wondered if soldiers housed in their barracks were preparing for battle.
That thought was most unpleasant and I was determined to plunge it from my mind. The day ahead promised to be one filled with delightful things for a young boy. All this was taking place, and I not yet twelve years of age.
Such a tender age, and yet for a boy growing up on a farm in a new land, it was the beginning of my manhood.
I was in a happy mood as I skipped back home after the purchase of morning’s breakfast, now able to skip along with two healthy feet. And I pushed away those thoughts from days behind me.
Along morning’s shore, the misty fog gathered as a blanket, then silently, disappeared allowing such as I to once more scan the sea.
It was proper to gaze across the waters upon more of Nova Scotia’s fertile land that stretched as a finger on the far side of Baie Verte. When the advancing tide arrived upon our side of this vast Bay, a safe swimming place was formed beside a large shelf of rock.
It was here where lads from Pointe de Bute and surrounding farms came together after chores for a good exchange of swimming. And as the tide withdrew, clam digging was a pastime of furious movement.
On one such occasion, I cut my right thumb digging furiously after a retreating Razor Clam.
Along the traveled road to Cape Tormentine were other settlements. Jolicure, Baie Verte, Port Elgin, Upper Cape and Cape Spear were additional memories. They too had similar collections of buildings and families working together, as my own place of residence at Pointe de Bute.
Horses pulling wagons with common folk were a sight, ambling along the roadway.
They came upon us as constant reminders of the hardy business needed to supply our communities. Most were farmers, like Da, and our acreage was proper for a family at the time.
My footsteps soon returned to the farm where Mum was properly anxious to serve breakfast.
A tune escaped my lips as I toured the world around our Inverma farmland with a boy’s satisfied gaze. Seagulls above, the wind tossing my mop of hair, and the strength of my arm firmly grasped my wrapped newspaper package.
Our home awaited me with its shades of weathered wood, along with fertile fields, a fence to climb, and my favorite tree.
Nearby our workhorse patiently awaited new instructions. All these sights were a part of my boyhood journey.
“Ta-Rah” was my statement to that young boy being left behind.
Now this purchased fish would be most suitable to serve at our table along with a cup of steaming tea.
Loudly I called, “Da! Mum!” I be here.”
I remembered the day that myself, Johnny Trenholm, son of John Senior made a proper defense to abide in this country, and on Inverma farm.
It was my good fortune to allay Da’s concern about my safety. And not be a passenger on a ship returning to England in the company of a good neighbor. “Hurrah!” I was to remain on the land my father claimed.
“Aye,” Inverma Farm is our land, and no longer threatened by the British,” Da said solemnly.
‘The men from Yorkshire are now friends and allies of the British.” Somehow I rearranged my mind and forgave those poor soldiers who had taken part in the calamity long ago. Now we were united in kind agreement to protect our kin, our lands and our country from any foreign invaders.
I remember racing Mattie across the meadow with my news and our happy voices joining the clouds above. My bare feet were unmindful of thistles or any bees rummaging among the berries.
And I was unconcerned about sharp pricks or other insect bites. I wanted to remember everything about that moment. Mattie’s hair fluttered behind her shaking head, as the wind captured each strand and flung it about. It resembled the tail end of a kite.
The joy within her frame matched the brightness of sun that breathed warmth upon the Maple leaves. Their splendor created a myriad of color this Autumn-day. Johnny, me, was so pleased to be staying in this new country.
And so it was with Mattie.
And it came to pass that not so far south of this country area, storm clouds crowded together in busy turmoil.
Colonel Jonathan Eddy, a “Planter” from New England was full of ideas. He desired this area of Nova Scotia join the Americans in throwing off British rule, and becoming their fourteenth colony.
It was also notable that a soldier-politician named George Washington was strongly encouraging him. In the backrooms of smoke-filled rooms, plans were being carefully discussed.
They were to have an effect on every family in the Isthmus of Chignecto. Unknown to these former residents of Yorkshire, the inhabitants of Pointe de Bute were situated in the middle of the coming melee.
Johnny soon came to learn about war in his new country.
Esther and Richard Provencher are co-authors and Managers of Dester Publications. They worked together in earnest when Richard suffered a stroke in 1999. This has helped immensely, combined with prayers, a dear wife-Esther, and a great doctor-“WB” who were encouraging and inspiring in a slow but dogged recovery.
Stories are built around a composite of stories and personalities, ranging from their own four children, grandchildren and neighbours. Esther and Richard live in Truro, Nova Scotia and they are very involved in their church, Abundant Life Victory Church plus Community Outreach.