Scene from Chap 11- Clash of Empires

Pharaoh Lake

Deborah Prescott was the daughter of Quaker parents and while she understood their beliefs and indeed shared them when she was younger, she was of a different mind since her parents were killed in a raid by a group of Delaware despite the fact that they had hosted many Indians over the years on their farm 20 miles north of Albany and were considered friends to most.  Most but not all; some settlers in the area, frightened by the recent increase in marauding and murdering Indians, began to find fault with those who befriended those demons of the woods.  Quakers were a prime target for their faulty logic.  The raiding group that killed Deborah’s parents was spurred on by whites who supplied them the liquor that caused the deed to be done.  She had been away at the time of the attack visiting her friends Mary and Oliver Ford.  After the raid she could not bear to live there so was now living with the Fords on their farm tucked into a small valley between Pharaoh Lake and Wolf Pond.  She was scattering feed for the chickens when she heard the sound of horses coming down the track to the farm.  Grabbing the musket she kept near, she awaited the visitors.

They were riding single file with Daniel in the lead when he suddenly reined in causing his horse to rear slightly as he spied a young woman pointing a musket at him.  Getting his horse under control he held his hands out in a gesture of peace and climbed out of the saddle.  ‘Good day to you my good woman,’ Daniel said, ‘is this the Ford place?’  Deborah was a fairly good judge of character and she could see that these men were not a threat so she lowered her musket and replied,’ yes it is, though they are not here at present.  I’m not really sure when they will be back.  They’re down to Albany doing some trading.’  ‘Ahh, I see,’ said Daniel, ‘we’re on our way to rejoin our scout unit at Fort Cumberland and were hoping to get some information on doings at Ticonderoga.’  ‘I don’t know how much help I can be along those lines,’ she said taking the wide brimmed hat off her head and shaking out her raven black hair, but the very least I can do is offer you gentlemen a meal and a place to bed down tonight.’  ‘That would suit our needs,’ replied Daniel suddenly realizing how beautiful this woman was, ‘I am Daniel Mallory and my companions are Timothy Winslow, Markus Winningham and Sgt. Glynnie Mulhern of his majesty’s 48th regiment.’  ‘Pleased to make your acquaintance gentlemen,’ she said with a slight curtsey, ‘I believe there is enough fodder for your horses over in the barn.’

While Timothy and Markus took care of the horses Daniel and Sgt. Mulhern lent a hand preparing the meal, hauling water and cutting some venison up for the stew pot.  Deborah walked into the kitchen carrying some fresh carrots from the garden to add to the stew as well as onion, garlic and basil.  Daniel found he could not take his eyes off of her as she chopped the vegetables, even to the point where he nicked his thumb with the knife he was using on the venison.  ‘Mr. Mallory,’ Deborah implored with a grin on her face, ‘I think we have enough meat for the stew from the deer, you need not add your own flesh and blood to it.’  Sgt. Mulhern burst out laughing at Daniel’s embarrassed look, ‘you’ll have to excuse the lad.  You see, lass, he hasn’t seen a pretty face in a long time and for sure you are a beauty.’

The next morning after a breakfast of coffee, bacon and freshly baked biscuits, the four men saddled up and made ready to leave for Fort Cumberland.  Deborah who rose before dawn in order to bake the biscuits came out of the cabin, a hide pouch filled with more biscuits in her hands approached Daniel and handed him the pouch.  He started to tie the pouch to his saddle but fumbled with the drawstring and almost dropped it.  ‘Oh Mr. Mallory,’ said a smiling Deborah, ‘I certainly hope you handle your musket better than this pouch or your knife.’  Daniel, blushing red in the face, stammered out a reply, ‘we thank you ma’am for your hospitality and for the extra biscuits.’  Deborah helped him attach the pouch and with a voice only he could hear said, ‘You take care, I look forward to seeing you again.’  She reached up and touched his arm and smiled to which he replied, ‘I will.’, and then looking back to his grinning friends said, ‘well, let’s get going.  It’s a good two week ride to Cumberland.’  They rode through the gate and onto the track leading south.  Daniel took a last glance back and saw Deborah standing at the gate watching them depart.

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