Dragging Canoe: Writing Wednesday

Yes, I know, I’m running behind.

Last weekend was delightful on so many levels. We had a wonderful trip, attended a great concert, and came back with stories that include drunk “gay” guy hitting on my spouse. He wasn’t a real problem, and was more looking for a better seat since the ones beside us were unoccupied at the time – meaning the occupants had stepped away between sets – than anything else. Such things come when the venue serves alcohol.

And the picture? That’s me in black and my spouse, Anna, is in the front.

Happy Wednesday! My Wednesday shares have become shorter and serialized, and for now, they’re coming from my current WIP (work in progress), Striking Balance. You’ll be able to find all the ones that pertain to Striking Balance under the Categories drop down to your right.

Striking Balance is a Queer Historical Paranormal Fantasy story set within my Appalachian Elementals series. It’s a freestanding tale, so you don’t need to have read the other stories within the series to delve into this one.

This is installment twenty-two, “Dragging Canoe” and it picks up directly where the last installment, “Slab of Cornbread” ended. The main character in Striking Balance is Benjamin (Nub) Schnell, the possessor of secrets twice his size and seeming age. He’s been working for nearly a decade on the same small farm as his friend, Conall Baldwin, who acts as the farm’s manager. This story begins during the American Revolutionary War years, 1779 to be precise, in the Nolichucky river basin of Northeast Tennessee.

The setup: I’ve skipped ahead a page from last week. Ben, who speaks first, is talking with Alexandria, Master Gow’s household manager, who has come along to cook and inspect what Ben and Conall have made over the winter and early spring. Soon after, he speaks with one of Master Gow’s men, who is quite interesting if you believe what he tells you.

     “Yes, Miss. The crocks are ready. I also made the new pot scrubbers and whisks ye requested.” I managed several dozen of each overwinter from white birch I gathered last fall. It occupied me during the winter. Conall carved bowls and spoons while I worked the birch, and all our scraps went in the kindling box.

     “I’ll get the crocks for ye to inspect.” I find fresh crocks and pig bladder covers already setting beside the root cellar door.

     “Any problem with Draggin’ Canoe and his lot?” One of Master Gow’s men pulls back a crock cover, smiling when he catches the smell of my work. “You’re a decent kraut maker, boy. I’d know since I’ve been all over. Indenturing to a ship’s captain will get you that.”

     So him too? Hearing my parents’ stories concerning their indentured servitude are what brought me to loathe the institution of slavery. They came here by choice and could work themselves free, but those like Mary and Davy made no such choice and have no hope of freedom, so ’tis in no way fair.

     “Thank ye, Sir.” I’d tip my cock hat, but I am in my work cap at present. This man’s in his as well so we simply nod at each other. He’s also wearing ankle-length, loose-legged trousers that billow when he moves. Slops, I’ve heard them called, but why would he have need of them outside a ship? “No troubles or complaints since Fort Lee’s building was abandoned.” While many settlers up and down the river have suffered attacks from the Chickamaugas, we’ve been spared along with the Alcott farm, but we can’t figure out why. Good prayers, Conall says. God is looking after us, but I know as well as he that many of those who’ve died were stronger in faith than we’ve been.

Why is Ben using ye? ‘Tis the time period and ye, in the object position inside formal speech, is still somewhat in usage. Ben’s showing respect to someone he doesn’t yet know (and who doesn’t deserve anything aside from his contempt – but you didn’t hear me say that, right?)

Until next week…

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