Don't You Worry Child
Don't You Worry Child
"Anna...Anna where are you?"
Anna Wheeler, eleven years old and all dark hair with big brown eyes, hid behind a bale of hay lost in her own world of hide and seek. Thomas, her older brother, jumped out of the hay loft above and she let out a playful shriek as she ran after him. Suddenly she came to a stop at the sight of four men mounted on horses, their skin darker than her own and their faces painted with red streaks. Her father was lying on the ground, something that resembled the axe he used to cut wood protruding out his back. Her mother was crouched on the ground cradling her baby sister in her arms and it was then she looked at Anna.
"Run Anna!" she screamed and the child hesitated for a moment, then turned around running as fast as her legs could carry her.
Anna let out a small scream as she was jolted awake in her bunk. It was the same nightmare that haunted her...but it wasn't just a nightmare. It was a memory from her stolen childhood, one she continued to try and suppress. The whereabouts of her mother and siblings still remained a mystery; it had been determined by the Officer leading the search for them that they were most likely dead or had been sold to another tribe. After the ordeal, Anna had been placed in the care of her mother's younger sister Alexandria. John Cameron, her aunt's fiancee earned a basic living and after they were married, they moved to a cabin on the frontier. Soon after, Alexandria became pregnant with her first child and life almost resumed as normal for Anna except the nightmares continued to plague her.
"John Cameron!" Chingachgook called as he emerged from the dark trees.
"Alexandria! Set three more places" John called back to the cabin as he grinned at the sight of his old friend. "How is Chingachgook, then?"
"The Master of Life is good... how is it with you, John? " he asked as his sons's Hawkeye and Uncas followed, leading a mule laden with an elk carcass.
"Gettin' along. Yes, it is" John grinned as he shook hands with Hawkeye. "It's good to see you Nathaniel."
"Uncas!" James, Alexandria's oldest boy, shouted as he ran towards them and Uncas snatched him one hand, swinging him up onto his shoulders.
Anna watched from the window, feeling a familiar feeling of dread enter her soul as her uncle continued to talk with the Indians. She knew they were not the ones that murdered her father but all the same she felt a hostility towards them each time they visited. She hated that Chingachgook always looked upon her with pity in his eyes for she knew John had told him what had happened to her. And she did not like the strange way Uncas and Hawkeye had looked at her on their last visit the year before. For she recognized that look. She was no longer a child, now eighteen years of age and very aware of the attention men paid to her.
"If Uncas is with you, that means he has not found a woman and started a family yet" Alexandria teased as she sat down at the table.
"Your eyes are too sharp, Alexandria Cameron. They see into my heart" Chingachgook said with a small smile as Uncas eyes strayed towards Anna.
"We're headed over to Can-tuck-ee. So Uncas and I can find wives to make Mohican children so our father will leave us in peace" Hawkeye said with a grin.
"A son like me?" James called.
"No. You are too strong. Turn me old too fast!" Uncas laughed as he wrestled with James.
"May I be excused?" Anna asked flatly.
"No you may not. You'll sit and finish that venison stew that you've barely touched" Alexandria stated.
"I don't want it."
"So I hear a French & Indian army are heading south to war against the English. Folks here goin' to join in that fight?" Hawkeye asked.
"Some I think. Fool's lot if you ask me" John said.
"They are not fools, they are brave men fighting to protect us from the French and if I had been born a man, I would have been proud to join the militia" Anna said bluntly and Alexandria cast her a horrified look that she dared to contradict what John had said.
"France is the enemy of the English. Not ours" Hawkeye countered.
"Really? Do you want them to overrun all New York colony?" Anna retorted.
"Anna, I want a word with you outside" John warned and the muscles in Hawkeyes jaw twitched as the oldest Cameron girl left the room.
"I do apologize" Alexandria murmured as she stood. "Come on James, it's time for bed. Say goodnight."
"I'm sure glad that Miss Anna wasn't born a man" Hawkeye said, his voice low so only Uncas could hear as Alexandria led James into the next room.
"She is like a wild horse but wild horses can be broken" Uncas remarked and Hawkeye shoved him hard on the shoulder.
"What's gotten into you girl? You humiliate me... in my own home. Infront of our guests! Then talk about matters that you know absolutely nothing about!"
"This is my home to John! And I don't want to sit with...wild indians" Anna seethed and John's face continued to turn a darker shade of red.
"They ain't wild. Chingachgook and his boys are dear friends of mine...and you ought to respect that!"
"Indian's murdered my father!"
"They're not Ottawa" John said, his tone softer as the tears threatened in Anna's eyes. "Look Anna, I know this hasn't been easy for you...adjusting to life out here. I know we've never been.. close but I vowed to raise you as if you were my own and that's what I've done."