Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lincoln's Inaugural, 1861

Selections from Abraham Lincoln's Inaugural Address
Washington, DC, 1861

Fellow-citizens of the United States:

In compliance with a custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, to be taken by the President "before he enters on the execution of this office." I do not consider it necessary at present for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety or excitement.

But apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States, that by the accession of a Republican Administration, their property, and their peace, and personal security, are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension... I declare that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so...

And more than this, I denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes. I add too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given, will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause -- as cheerfully to one section as to another.

And for that very reason, I can not and will not commit the armed forces of this government to interference or violence within the several States.

It is known by all that, even today, fighting has begun in several of the cities of the Southern States -- fighting between slaves and masters, but also between those who believe in the institution of slavery, and those who do not. It has been said by some that it is the province of the President to defend the slave masters, for indeed their property and lives are threatened.

But it is not said in our Constitution that the President shall take upon himself the office of policeman, to right the wrong of theft; nor yet to defend all citizens against every violence or harm. Against rebellion, insurrection, invasion, or foreign interference, I stand ready to defend all States and Territories, without hesitation, with all my might and heart and soul. But I declare unequivocally that I can not and will not interfere violently in the internal matters of the several States. To do so would undermine the essential sovereign powers of the States, and recast the Presidency as a hegemony akin to the monarchies of Europe, who suffer no authority or order but their own...

Nevertheless, let it not be thought that I construe the Union to be toothless. I hold that in contemplation of universal law, and of the Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments... Continue to execute all the express provisions of our national Constitution, and the Union will endure forever -- it being impossible to destroy it, except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself...

It follows from these views that no State, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union, -- that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence, within any State or States, against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken; and to the extent of my ability I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part... I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that will constitutionally defend and maintain itself...

Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it."

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Headaches of Jean-Baptiste

Catoctin Mountain
May, 1831

Jean-Baptiste cleared his throat. "Thank you all for coming and meeting today," he said. He bowed to Red Sky and her advisors, sitting on the furs to his left, and then to Lone Fox and his advisors, sitting to his right. They nodded in return. The morning sunlight filtered through the walls of Jean-Baptiste's tent and illuminated the swirls of smoke from their pipes. "All of us -- Haudenosaunee, Cherokee, and French -- have had our differences in the past. But now we have come together..."

Jean-Baptiste was barely listening to his own words: they were just diplomatic filler, the sort of thing he'd learned to spout out easily over the past decade. As his mouth worked, he watched the faces of the Indians carefully, looking for any sign of agreement or disagreement as he lay out the danger that the people of the Great Sun posed, and gave the French proposal again: favorable trade agreements and French approval of treaties, in exchange for French assistance and protection. For good measure, he tried the gambit he'd used with Lone Fox, talking about the French as a family, with the Emperor as Father, and the hope that all the tribes and the French together might be brothers one day. It sounded good to him, but the Indians were utterly stone-faced. At last Jean-Baptiste ran out of words, and sat down, spent.

Red Sky rose, and spoke. "Thank you, Jean-Baptiste. You have spoken of these things before now, but it is good to hear them again. We of the Haudenosaunee cannot agree to what you say, today. There are several reasons for this. First, I, Red Sky, do not have the authority to bind all the tribes of the Haudenosaunee to a treaty with the French. I am just an ambassador. Still, if I think the treaty would be good, I will take it back to the great council and see if they agree.

"But more importantly, Jean-Baptiste," said Red Sky, "I do not think this agreement would be good for the Haudenosaunee. You speak of the French family; you talk about the Father Emperor. But we of the Haudenosaunee are not French, and we do not wish to be French. Your ways are simply not our ways. You have your ways, and they are good for you; we have our ways, and they are good for us. And I think that it would be best if we kept our own fathers, and did not take the French father."

She paused, and Jean-Baptiste rose to speak again, but she held up a hand to show she wasn't finished.

"Still," she said, "I agree that the Great Sun and his people are a grave danger to us -- an urgent danger. Even today, as we speak now, some of our people have been captured by the Great Sun and are being tortured by them. The Great Sun rules over dozens of tribes all along the Great River. We Haudenosaunee are only six tribes; we cannot defeat them by ourselves."

"So you must agree to our terms," said Jean-Baptiste firmly.

"There is another way," said Red Sky. "Wait and listen, friend, and I will tell you. Generations ago, the five original tribes of the Haudenosaunee were always fighting with one another. Always this tribe or that tribe was making war. But at last one man, called the Great Peacemaker, came and showed us a new way to live. Through his wisdom, we became the People of the Long House. You know that we live in long houses, with several families together in a single building. In the same way, our six tribes live together as separate families in one dwelling.

"And since that time, a number of tribes have asked to join us in the Long House. The Raccoon People joined us a generation ago, and became the Keepers of the Eastern Door. I suggest to you, Jean-Baptiste, and you, Lone Fox, that we should consider joining in an alliance like that of the Haudenosaunee: not one family, but separate families under one roof."

Red Sky bowed and sat. Jean-Baptiste said, "May I speak?" When Lone Fox smiled and nodded, he said, "Red Sky, thank you for your honest words. I will speak frankly also. You talk about our three peoples coming together for mutual protection, like the Haudenosaunee do; but I do not think that will work -- for two reasons. First, the Great Sun is already on your doorstep. You must, you must decide quickly; and when you decide, you must act. If you, Red Sky, sign this agreement with me, I can send a message back to France, and French troops will begin marching within a month. They will come and protect you, and you need fear nothing more. But if I send a message back saying, "no, they want a loose alliance," then there will be argument and talking for months or years while we decide on exactly how it will work. By the time we have decided, the Great Sun's horses and ships will wipe you all away and enslave your families. I am sorry to speak so bluntly, but I have to emphasize that the danger is very real.

"And the other reason," he continued, "is that while we French wish to join with you, to protect you from your enemies, we do ask some things in return. If we have an alliance, but we do not have favorable trade, and we do not have a say in these affairs, then what do we gain? The Haudenosaunee are great warriors, but they cannot sail to Europe and defend France from, say, England. What would France gain from such an alliance?"

Red Sky was frowning and staring at the door of the tent. Jean-Baptiste could tell she had stopped listening, and was turning his words over.

Lone Fox cleared his throat. "I will speak now," he said. "I had words with Jean-Baptiste earlier today, and many thoughts afterwards. And it comes to this: I am not a chief of all the Cherokee; there is not now, and never has been such a chief. But if I agree to either of these plans -- if the Cherokee join the French family, or become the Keepers of the Southern Door of the Long House -- then I, or someone like me, may become such a chief. Certainly such a chief will be called for. Perhaps, like the Haudenosaunee, the Cherokee can become a set of clans in one great house.

"But is this a good thing? For many, many generations, since the land was hung from the sky, the Cherokee have lived as we live now, and it has been good. We did not all need to live in one house, or choose one chief. If we do this now, because of pressure from outside, how can this be good?

"We speak here of families. We all like families; families are good. But a nation, a tribe, is not a family. A family lives together, they eat from the same bowl, they heat themselves by one fire, their bones and flesh are one. They will die to save each other; they love each other more than they love themselves. Can you tell me truly, Jean-Baptiste, that if the Cherokee join the French family, that the French Emperor would lay down his life to save me? For that is what a true father would do for his son.

"The Long House is better; Red Sky, your idea is tempting. But even with that I am very uneasy. If the Cherokee keep the southern door, who will come to our aid if we falter? Will we be called to help hold the eastern door if the Raccoon People fail? Who will decide? What if no decision can be reached? If a decision is reached, how will it be enforced? If a decision is wrong, who will take the blame? How will it be rectified?

"I know," said Lone Fox, before Red Sky could answer, "I know that the Haudenosaunee have answers for these questions. But I do not know if they are good answers for the Cherokee. I do not know if the Cherokee and Haudenosaunee can live in the same long house. If there are two families in a house, they can share a meal, share a smoke, and the grandmothers and grandfathers can reach an understanding. But this would not work for us."

"Then what?" demanded Jean-Baptiste. "For something must be done."

Lone Fox nodded. "Yes," he said. "I have been thinking." He took a long draw on the pipe. "This morning I walked in the forest. I have not been so far north before, and it was good to see this forest, so different from the forests of the south, but also much the same. Here there are many different kinds of trees, many kinds that we don't have further south. You do not have so many pine trees; but you have more birches and maples. Still, the forest is strong and healthy.

"A forest," said Lone Fox, "is not a family, but it is strong. A healthy forest can stand against disease, fire, and floods. It is made of many different trees, many different animals and plants, and they do not gather in meeting, or make plans, or guard doors, or have ceremonies. Each animal and plant lives its own life, sometimes in cooperation, sometimes not; and together they are woven into a strong fabric.

"If we are to be strong," said Lone Fox, "and yet still remain Cherokee, and Haudenosaunee, and French, as we should be, then we must be like a forest. Some of us, like the wild cat, will fight. Some of us, like the spiders, will creep and spy, and capture enemies. Some of us, like the fish, will be strong in the water; some, like the hawk, will be strong in the air..."

"This is just chaos," said Jean-Baptiste. "A forest isn't strong; it's -- it's just a bunch of trees and animals. It's just -- it's messy. I have no idea what you're trying to say."

Lone Fox didn't look at him; he just looked at Red Sky. Red Sky stared back at him, and slowly nodded. And Jean-Baptiste knew that, somehow, he had lost.

The Father of the French

Catoctin Mountain
May, 1831

The morning sun was finally starting to burn off the fog when Jean-Baptiste and Felix arrived in Lone Fox's tent. The chief -- one of several important Cherokee chiefs who had come to the gathering -- was sitting on matted reeds and repairing a spear. He was an older man, his hair streaked with white, his face creased with old scars. He nodded as the Frenchmen were shown in, and gestured for them to have a seat on the mats next to him. "Welcome," he said in French.

"Thank you for meeting with us this morning," said Jean-Baptiste.

Lone Fox smiled. "This is why we have all come, isn't it? To meet. You are welcome."

Jean-Baptiste decided to plunge right in. "When you arrived a few days ago, Lone Fox, we spoke briefly of why we had all gathered here. We spoke of the armies of the Great Sun, and how they were moving further and further west."

Lone Fox nodded. "Yes."

"There is more news this morning," said Jean-Baptiste. "A Seneca warrior has arrived in the Haudenosaunee camp. He was recently captured by soldiers of the Great Sun two days hard ride from here, and subjected to torture. Red Sky spoke with us about it. I talked with her about what the French can offer -- weapons, advice, even the protection of our army. I think -- " he glanced at Felix -- "I think she is close to agreeing to our terms."

Lone Fox looked at Jean-Baptiste from under his gray eyebrows. "I hear the words you are not saying," he said. "To the east of the Cherokee is the Great Sun. To the north is an alliance of the French and the Haudenosaunee. It would be wise, Lone Fox, to join this alliance also."

"The decision is yours, of course," said Jean-Baptiste. "But I think you put the situation well."

Lone Fox took his knife to the spear shaft, whittling the end into a new shape. As the pause stretched on, Jean-Baptiste strained against the desire to fill the silence with something, anything. Felix began to fidget.

"A strange thing happens when white men speak," said Lone Fox at last. "You speak, and create chiefs."

"What?" said Jean-Baptiste.

"I am not the chief of all the Cherokee," said Lone Fox. "There never has been such a chief. I am chief of a village. Chiefs of other villages are my friends; many of them say they respect my judgement. And so I was sent, among others, to this conference with the French and the Haudenosaunee."

"But they gave you the power to sign treaties, to enter into agreements," said Jean-Baptiste. "Didn't they?"

"Yes," said Lone Fox. "And if I do so, suddenly the other chiefs will look with more respect on myself and the other Cherokee negotiators here. We few have become the mouthpiece of all the Cherokee. We have never had such a mouth before."

Lone Fox fell silent again, whittling. Jean-Baptiste said, "This is good, isn't it? Unity among the tribe?..."

"The French," said Lone Fox, "have one mouth, one pair of hands, one pair of ears, and one mind. You have an Emperor."

"Yes," said Jean-Baptiste slowly. "In a way. What are you driving at?"

"The French Emperor desires to make a treaty with the Cherokee. But he cannot speak to all the Cherokee one at a time. So he asks the Cherokee to become one people, under one government, so that he can have one treaty."

"I think that -- that's not how it is," began Jean-Baptiste.

Lone Fox laughed. "Before the French and Spanish came, we Cherokee did not even know we were one tribe," he said. "It was not so long ago; we remember." He touched a necklace he was wearing, and Jean-Baptiste noticed for the first time that, unlike the rest of his jewelry, it was gold: a cross, wound round with writhing filaments, with what looked like a golden flower in the center. "We had our village; we often visited with other villages nearby, and many of them spoke our language. Some of us traveled far, to villages where they spoke strangely." He shrugged. "And then the white men come, and ask, 'Where is your chief?'"

He fell silent again.

Jean-Baptiste said, "But it is good to have chiefs over more than one village. Look. What happens if there is an argument between villages? What happens if there is a disagreement about trade? Or fishing or hunting rights? What if there is a famine in one village, who coerces the other villages to help?"

Lone Fox did not answer. Jean-Baptiste waited a while, then decided to press on.

"Look how strong the Haudenosaunee are, Lone Fox. They are not one tribe, but six, and more tribes want to join, for mutual protection and aid. Look how strong the people of the Great Sun are: hundreds of tribes all up and down the Great River, all united and ready to help each other. The same with us, with the French."

Again, Jean-Baptiste paused, watching Lone Fox's face for some hint of his thoughts. The old man continued whittling.

"Separate, the individual villages of the Cherokee are weak, Lone Fox. But together, they could be strong. Strong enough to defend themselves from the Great Sun, strong enough to be a valuable friend to the Haudenosaunee and the French. Strength brings security. Join together, and the Cherokee would be like one great family."

Lone Fox paused a moment and looked at Jean-Baptiste, holding the white man's gaze. Then he returned to his whittling.

"Lone Fox, I will speak from the heart," said Jean-Baptiste, borrowing a phrase Red Sky had used that morning. "When I was young, there were many troubles in France. For hundreds of years, the French had been one great family, and the king was the father. But he was an unkind father; he betrayed his children. And so there was war, and revolution, and many people died, including my parents. I was six years old when I went to the orphanage, the house for children with no parents."

"Did you have no grandparents?" asked Lone Fox. "No aunts or uncles? No friends?... Excuse me if these are rude questions."

"No," said Jean-Baptiste. "My parents had moved from the country, where their family lived, into the city, and had few friends there, I think. I know very little about it. But when the wars ended, the French were still a great family. Now we have our Emperor, and he is the father of the French. And because he is the father of all the French, he is my father, as well. France -- France is my father, my mother, my sisters and brothers. Do you see?"

Lone Fox slowly nodded. He put down his spear and folded his hands.

"You have spoken from the heart," he said. "So I will also. Jean-Baptiste, I was also an orphan. My parents were killed when the Spanish and French fought in the far south, in the Natchez territory. That was part of the Great Sun lands, and there was a great battle, in which my father fought. He was Cherokee, but he fought for the Great Sun; as you know, sometimes the Great Sun buys warriors. He was wounded and came home to his wife, and she nursed him, but he died. Soon after he died, my mother died as well. There is little left of them now, except my memory, and this." Lone Fox pointed to the cross at his chest.

"I was wondering about that," said Jean-Baptiste. "It is beautiful. Is it Cherokee make? It looks Spanish."

"I think it is Spanish," said Lone Fox, "but I'm not sure. My grandmother told me it had been in the family for generations. I lived with her and my grandfather for a short time before they died, and then went to live with cousins I barely knew, and from there to other distant relatives... It was not like living in a house of orphans, it was not bad. But a family, it was not."

Lone Fox stopped and stared at his folded hands. Again Jean-Baptiste fought down the impulse to fill the silence.

"So I understand the need for family," said Lone Fox at last. "But can a nation be a family? Can one man, one Emperor, truly be a father to a whole nation? How can he be a father if you never see him, never hear his voice? Never touch his hand? How can he be a father if you cannot cry on his shoulder?"

Jean-Baptiste said quietly, "I cannot explain it. But he is my father. He is."

Lone Fox sighed. "I do not understand. Perhaps I cannot. I do see that you have a child's loyalty to his father; but I do not see that the Emperor has a father's loyalty to his child. Nevertheless" -- Lone Fox clapped his hands -- "I will think about it. Thank you, Jean-Baptiste, for speaking with me this morning."

Jean-Baptiste stood up. For once he had no words to say.

"Perhaps," said Lone Fox, "it is time for us together to meet with the Haudenosaunee, and see what wisdom will come from council."

The Withered Hand

Great Sun City
September, 1805

The City of the Great Sun was the mightiest anywhere, as far as Tall Talon knew, and it slept little; but in the darkest hours of the night there were few boats out, and the streets were empty. Tall Talon walked among the wharves, listening to the river lap at the boats, watching the moon on the water. As he walked, he ran his fingers over his withered hand.

It should have been him. It should have been him to go with the white men.

Tall Talon knew he was not a perfect man. He'd known it all his life; how could he avoid it? But he believed he had been able to turn his deformity into a strength. It gave him insight into the pain in people's hearts. It gave him more compassion, and made him more generous. He was, of course, the eldest son of the Great Sun, and as such he was almost a god on Earth; so compassion and generosity could only be carried so far. But compared to his younger brother! --

"Then let me go, father... I have been almost everywhere Tall Talon has been." Such arrogance! Thinking he was almost as good as Tall Talon, just because he'd followed at his heels everywhere he went!

"This will be a dangerous journey, and none might return. And with your hand as it is... you are not always helpful. I cannot risk you in that way." His father... He loved the Great Sun, how could he not? But this was so... wrong. Tall Talon could scarcely believe it.

Of course the Great Sun was a god on earth. But that did not mean he was infallible, or that he knew everything. There were other gods, other powers. Tall Talon ran his fingers over his withered hand again.

Tall Talon found his footsteps leading him to the Mound of the Moon, and climbing the ninety-one steps to its summit. From here the city lay before him -- not golden, as it was in the afternoon, but gray and shadowed, the rivers glittering silver under the moonlight. In the middle of the plaza before the Hall of the Moon stood the great black slab used for sacrifices. Tall Talon lay his hand on the cold stone, traced his fingers along the grooves cut into it to receive the sacrificial blood. ...And here was the holy knife used by the priests, its blade washed pure and clean.

The thought came to him at once -- a thought that had never entered his mind before. He would have dismissed it out of hand as ridiculous -- but... The thought had come to him as he stood here, at this hour, on this holy mound, under this moon. Where had the thought come from, if not from the Moon? And if it was from that great power, did he dare ignore it?

Tall Talon picked up the knife and watched the moonlight play on it, turning over the idea in his mind. Then he put the knife in his cloak and went back down the ninety-one steps.

Charged to Find the Sea

Great Sun City
September, 1805

[Note here: Ohio River and lower Mississippi = Great (Sun) River. Upper Mississippi = Moon River. Missouri River = Canoe River.]

In that region where the Sun River bends west and joins the Moon River, the world is flat; so the people build hills to reach the sky. Tall Talon stood at the top of the Mound of the Great Sun, watching the sun fall into the blue distance across the wide, wide fields. From here, it was the sky that really surrounded you; the world was just a small earthen platter you happened to be standing on. The Mound of the Moon and the Mound of the Kings stood off to his left and right, capped with halls of earth and painted wood, and the sun lit them and turned them gold. Below, the City of the Great Sun sprawled around the rivers, crawling with citizens and slaves going about the business of the day.

The man called Clark came to him, smiling slightly. Tall Talon returned the smile and nodded his welcome. They could say nothing more, since there was no one to interpret for them. Clark drew out a finger-sized wrapping of tobacco, lit the end of it, and put it in his mouth. Tall Talon had seen the white men do this a number of times over the last week as be brought them down the Moon River from Pier Town; they seemed to smoke whenever they felt like it, instead of only during meetings or rituals of significance. To Tall Talon it seemed somehow disrespectful to the plant. But it was not his business. He and Clark stood in silence, and waited for the sun to go down, and the feasting to begin.

Together they walked in and took their places at the great table, which was the longest of three in the great hall. The Great Sun was already at its head, wearing his crown of eagle feathers and turquoise; he gestured for Tall Talon and Clark to take their seats on either side of him, next to Lewis and Tall Talon's brother, Falling Cloud. The Great Sun called for Sacagawea to stand next to him and translate for them all.

When all were seated, the Great Sun gestured for the feast to be served; and the slaves brought turkey and fish, corn, beans, and squash, pumpkin and meal cakes and meat of the bison and bear...

"This is the best meal I've had in a year," said Sacagawea, translating for Lewis. "It's been a long, difficult journey."

"So, tell us about the lands of the white men," said the Great Sun graciously.

Lewis smiled. "I don't know how much you would believe," he said. "We have many wonders you do not have here. For example..." He pulled his knife out of his belt and placed it on the table. "This blade is made of metal," he said. "It is very strong, very sharp." He demonstrated by using it on his meat. The Great Sun's eyebrows went up.

"And we have guns," said Clark. "Tall Talon here probably told you about them; we showed them to him on the way down."

The Great Sun nodded. "I would like to see a demonstration, perhaps tomorrow."

"Certainly," said Lewis. He went on to say a few words about the tall brick, stone, and wood houses of the white man, and the great sailing ships, and even tried to describe writing and democracy, but the translation soon got bogged down. "Tell me a bit about your own country," he said at last.

"This is the land of the Great Sun," said the Great Sun. "From the Five Lakes to the north to the Sea in the south, from the mountains in the east to the mountains in the west, all this land is ours. It is a good land; the sun and waters are plentiful, and the earth is rich. The Creator Sun gave us this land, and showed us how to hunt and fish and draw plants from the soil. And he gave us the horse, which at first brought sickness, but now is our greatest friend."

"The horse brought sickness?" asked Clark.

"There is a story," said the Great Sun, "but it is long and I am not the best storyteller. That would be my son Tall Talon." He smiled. "But briefly, the horse came to us from the south, from the lands of the Natchez. This was a long time ago -- six or seven grandfathers. At first the horse was feared; but then we learned to tame and ride it. And many of us began to keep horses on our farms. But then it became clear that the horse brought sickness with it: a terrible sickness with no cure. The Great Sun at that time was a wicked man, who did not hear the words of the heavens properly; and people said that the horse was sent to bring us sickness as punishment. And so many of them killed their horses and threw them in the river."

The Great Sun paused to take a bite. Clark said, "But you clearly use many horses now."

"Oh yes," said the Great Sun. "The story is not finished. So it happened that the Sun sent a messenger to a young man who lived in the north east -- a man of the Lakota tribe. And the messenger said to him, 'You are now the Great Sun. You can ride the horses, and no sickness will come to you. Ride to Great Sun City, and take your rightful place there.' So he gathered up what horses he could, and learned to ride them, and he did not get sick. And he and his people rode south down the Canoe River and the people were afraid -- but hopeful, because it was clear that these Lakota could ride the horses and not be sick. And the young man became the Great Sun; and since that time there has been no sickness. I am his descendant."

"That is a fascinating story," said Lewis. "You are an excellent storyteller."

The Great Sun smiled. "And you are polite to say so," he said. "But now it is your turn again. Tell us about your journey, and your plans."

"It's been long, long and hard," said Lewis. "We left over a year ago. The mountains are very tall, very steep, very dry."

"We had to turn back at one point," said Clark. "We hadn't brought enough food. Up in the high passes, it's so dry and the air is so thin, hardly anything grows. We were eating horses and candles by the time we got out of there."


"A light," said Lewis. "It works by burning wax. Such as bees make."

"So you were eating beeswax?"

"Yes, we had run out of other food. So we came back home, got more supplies, and tried again. And then we made it -- barely." He gave a sad smile. "Our guide did not."

"But you have this young woman and her child," said the Great Sun. Sacagawea smiled as she translated.

"We met her a long time after we came over the mountains," said Clark. "We found the Canoe River and came down it, and met her up in Shoshone territory. She's guided us the rest of the way here."

"And now you are here," said the Great Sun. "Bringing a message of peace and greeting from President Jefferson, you say."

"That's right," said Lewis. "The United States are interested in this region, opening up trade and so on."

"Excellent; and we will speak much more of this. But not at dinner," said the Great Sun firmly. "Dinner is for storytelling and laughter. So tell me: have you come far enough? Have you seen enough?"

"No indeed," said Lewis. "We are charged to find the sea."

"The sea?" said the Great Sun. "You mean the sea to the west? That is a long journey. There are more mountains to cross, and many strong and dangerous tribes there. It is a poor and backward area, compared to this. Why would you go there?"

"Well," said Clark, "the President is interested in trade; he wants to know if there's an easy way to get from sea to sea by water. He also wants to know what else is out here -- what kinds of trees, what kinds of metals -- gold, silver, turquoise, and so on. He wants to know what tribes there are. He wants to know if other white men are here. That sort of thing."

The Great Sun's eyes narrowed for just a moment, and then he smiled again. "A man with a mind full of curiosity," he said. "A noble pursuit. And do you have a guide to take you to the far west?"

Tall Talon's ears pricked and he sat up a little straighter.

"We have Sacagawea," said Lewis. "But she has no idea about the lands to the west of here. She is in our employ, and has been crucial to the success of our mission, so we will not leave her behind. But it would be helpful to have a guide that knows the way over the mountains. Are you offering such a guide?"

Tall Talon leaned forward. "Father," he said, "If I may suggest. I have been up the Sun River many times with our trade barges. I have spoken often with the Middle Waters People and the Long House People. I have visited all of the Five Lakes. There is -- if I may say -- no one who knows the lands better than I."

The Great Sun smiled. "You are charitable to offer yourself so readily, my son," he said. "But I need you here with me. This will be a dangerous journey, and none might return. And with your hand as it is... you are not always helpful. I cannot risk you in that way."

"Then let me go, father," said Falling Cloud. "I have been almost everywhere Tall Talon has been."

The Great Sun laughed. "You have!" he said. "You are young, but you are strong and brave and good in a fight. Yes, Lewis and Clark, I think we have found your guide."

Tall Talon leaned back slowly, eyes on his food. The talk swirled around him, and the cocoa and honey drinks were brought out for dessert, but his eyes stayed down, falling sometimes to his withered hand.

The World Turn'd Upside Down

Williamsburg, VA
October, 1781

The drums rolled and the pipes caught up a merry old tune:

Listen to me and you shall hear,
News hath not been this thousand year:
Since Herod, Caesar, and many more,
You never heard the like before...

"March!" called the sergeant, and Isaac stepped forward to the beat.

Yet let's be content, and the times lament,
You see the world turn'd upside down.

A low mist hung over James Bay, brought by a sea breeze; and the smell of clean salt overcame the cookfires, the old leather, the unwashed men, and all the other stinks of the three-week siege. Isaac kept his eyes straight ahead as they marched down the hill, meaning he had to look out over the Bay and see the French fleet crowding the water by the inlet. But it was better than looking at this sorry army he was marching in. They went in a ragged file three abreast, muskets at their shoulders, laughing, talking, crying. Some of the men had hung hats on their guns, or stuffed grass or nettles in the barrels.

Command is given, we must obey,
And quite forget old Christmas day:
Kill a thousand men, or a Town regain,
We will give thanks and praise amain...
Yet let's be content, and the times lament,
You see the world turn'd upside down.

They rounded a corner in the camp and came out onto the broad field where the "Americans" and French were lined up, waiting for them. Washington's traitors were on the right, in the position of honor, by God; and Rochambeau's troops were on the left. Isaac would have marched with his eyes shut if he could have. The traitors were lined up ragtag, most of them without uniforms or even proper boots, cheering and waving their hats in the air; the French formed fine ranks, and their brass gleamed. Isaac stared at his feet.

Which is why Adam was able to easily grab his collar, yank him out of the line, and hurl him down on his hands and knees. Isaac yelled and struggled to get up, burdened by his pack and musket bag, but Adam, working with silent speed, twisted him onto his back and pushed a knife up against his throat.

"Look at me," hissed Adam. "Look at me!"

Isaac tried to focus. Adam's face looked wrong somehow. Someone nearby said, "Here, what are you doing?"

"Look at me!" cried Adam. He shook Isaac. Isaac finally saw: Adam's left eye was milky white, and a terrible red scar ran down his face. "What -- what --" said Isaac.

"You did this to me," said Adam, and his voice was almost calm now. "You did this to me. I wanted it to be the last thing you saw before you died." Isaac felt Adam tense his arm for the thrust, felt the pain in his throat --

Then Adam was off him, and fighting someone else. Isaac shook his head to clear it, struggled to his feet. A familiar voice: "You double-crossing deserter, what the hell do you think you're doing coming back here? I'll see you hanged!"

Isaac spun round. There was his brother Arthur, sword upraised, dressed in the non-uniform of the Americans, with Adam at his feet. Adam rolled away, found his footing, and was off, dodging between the startled soldiers.

"That's right!" Arthur shouted after him. "That's right, you just run, you coward! Like you did before!"

For a moment the two brothers watched Adam dash past the last ranks and disappear into the woods. As far as Isaac was concerned, he wasn't worth chasing. He felt of his neck: there was some blood there, but nothing serious.

Arthur turned and smiled at him. "Well," he said. "That was a surprise! It's good to see you. Are you hurt?"

Isaac knew Arthur had saved his life, and that he deserved -- deserved -- well, gratitude, respect, a handshake. But Isaac had none of that in him, not today, not while his King's army was being marched in disgrace between the French and the traitors. Isaac would have been happy to die today. Arthur had taken even that from him.

He just turned and rejoined the British ranks without a word.

Our Lords and Knights, and Gentry too,
Do mean old fashions to forgo:
They set a porter at the gate,
That none must enter in thereat.
They count it a sin, when poor people come in.
Hospitality itself is drowned.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament,
You see the world turn'd upside down.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
January, 1778

The sleet rattled the windows, and freezing rain turned the street into icy mush, but inside, the inn glowed with the warmth of the fire, the flowing beer, the laughter and shouting, and the punching and the kicking and the smashing furniture. Here a British soldier, complete with red coat and tricorn hat, walloped an American farmer with his mug; there, a patriotic silversmith smashed a chair over the head of a British cannoneer; over here, the innkeeper cringed behind his bar and shouted ineffectually for everyone to in Jesus's name stop, just stop.

Isaac Pledger rushed in, shouting for quiet, and when that didn't work, he fired his pistol into the air. The bar fight subsided. Americans looked at him defiantly, and the British soldiers looked at him sheepishly.

"Rogers, Bentley, Simpson, Thomas," said Isaac wearily. "Get back to quarters and sober up. I'll deal with you later."

As the soldiers shuffled out of the bar, and the Americans sat back down with their drinks, he sighed and went over to the innkeeper. "I apologize, Mr. Enfield. I can pay for damages."

The innkeeper named a sum twice what was fair, and grumbled that it wasn't going to make up for lost business, but Isaac paid it silently. "And one more beer," he added. "For me."

Isaac took his beer and sat alone at a table by the door. He wasn't expecting any more trouble, at least not as long as he was sitting there, so he drank deeply. When he set down his mug, someone had sat down at his table.

"Isaac Pledger?" said the man. "Captain, by your stripes."

"That's me," said Isaac, trying to focus on the man's face. The voice sounded familiar... "Do I know you?"

"Yep. Name is Adam. I think I last saw you... two, three years ago? At Christmas up in Boston. I'm your cousin."

"Adam!" said Isaac. "Well I'll be damned! How the hell are you? Here, I'll buy you a drink."

"I'd never turn that kind of offer down," said Adam. When Isaac got back to the table with his cup, Adam said, "So you're a captain in His Majesty's army! How did that happen?"

Isaac sighed and shrugged. "When Howe took Boston, all the able-bodied men were conscripted. And anyway, I never had much sympathy for the rebels."

"So you agree with old Steadfast?"

"Father? Yes. Arthur was full of ideas about the rights of man and other nonsense. It's all very well in theory, I suppose, but father and I think that loyalty to King and country and God has to count for something. What's the point of having human rights if you have no loyalty?"

"You and your father?" said Adam, smiling. "Steadfast's a pretty conservative fellow."

Isaac smiled. "Yes, always has been. He's from up in Concord originally, and that's a pretty small, conservative place. But I think something happened when he was young, something that made him pretty skeptical of human nature. He never talks about it, though he's gotten close a couple of times. But anyway, he pretty much thinks that people are rotten to the core, and need strong authority if they're going to do right. And I guess... I guess, overall, I agree with him."

Adam smiled. "Yes, that's what Arthur told me you'd said."

"Arthur? What do you mean? Have you talked to him?"

"A while back. I served with him in Washington's army up till a year ago."


"Yup. He and I met up in New York, and were together all the way down to the Delaware. When Washington crossed it on Christmas, I decided I'd had enough, and ditched them."

"Well aren't you bold as brass," said Isaac. "You talk about desertion as if you were changing your coat."

Adam shrugged. "I'd only joined up to avoid the authorities in New York," he said. "Besides, if Washington's a traitor, then it's no sin to desert his army."

Isaac shook his head. "So Arthur's still with them?"

"I imagine. I tried to get him to come with me, but he said he still believed in the revolution or something. I don't know why he thinks Washington will give him any more 'human rights' than George III does."

Isaac grunted. "A fair point."

Adam grinned. "You talk fine about loyalty and authority, Isaac, but where's your loyalty to your city? Your colony? Boston and Quatsino are pretty much free of the crown these days, aren't they? Are John Adams and his boys still in charge up there?"

"That's different," said Isaac. "Just because the people of Quatsino don't know what's good for them -- I mean, that proves my point, democracy is a fool's game -- "

"Come off it, Isaac," growled Adam. "You and I know perfectly well the real reason you're wearing a red coat. It's because you want your father's approval. Steadfast is an old stick in the mud; he's so conservative, he grumbles when the sun rises and changes the night to day. You don't give a damn about king or country or anything, all you care about is Steadfast paying attention to you instead of Arthur for once."

"That's a lie!" cried Isaac, and pushed the table at Adam. As he fell, Adam grabbed Isaac's coat and pulled him down with him, so that they were rolling on the floor. And then Isaac was only conscious of punching, kicking, smashing furniture, and blood.