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Chapter 26: LONA

Parry loaded his larger wagon and checked his tie downs to make sure everything was secure. He had his largest load to date and expected to be able to trade well for everything that he was bringing. Lona and her family were expecting him soon and he wouldn’t want to disappoint them.

The bridge and the path that was forming because of it, made traveling far easier than otherwise. He now made better time in traveling than his previous trips because not only was the path worn, but he was accustomed to the trip and made far fewer wrong turns.

This would likely be the last trip of the season. Many of the ships had begun to pull into port to dock for the winter season and many of the craftsmen were trying to travel to other towns. Parry could only take two men with him but many more had asked.

“Parry, this path that we are taking, do you know it well?”

“I’ve traveled this path several times now and each time I do, it is easier. It has gotten so easy that a child could do it. Where do you come from Darrell?”

The tall lanky man looked at his partner that sat in the back of the wagon, “We both come from the port of Oman. With our new training, jobs will come easily. We know the people and our homes are there.”

“Why did you come up here?”

The shorter man in the back answered this one. “Sometimes you have to travel to make your customers respect you more. We were lucky. This time we did not have to travel far nor for too long a time and as a big bonus, we gained a lot of extra skills. As a wood worker, you often learn nothing about handling stone. We both got a lot of experience working in each specialty. This is probably why we make good partners. As a bonus, Armad taught us far more than any other boss that we have ever had.”

“Don’t you expect to run into quite a bit of competition in Oman?”” Asked Parry.

Darrell shook his head. “The King has begun building again. He pays well and he keeps his helpers well fed and busy. It is interesting that Armad does the same thing. Outside of a main port, it is unusual to have someone in charge that is so organized. Usually, it is the head carpenter or stone worker that does the organizing. It would be quite helpful if there was one man in charge of all of the skilled workers controlling the schedules but that will probably never happen.”

They arrived at the main house and were greeted by John who had them put their bedrolls and such in the shop. When they entered, Parry noticed that the tools had been removed and the place had been cleaned out.

“John, what are your plans for the shop? What happened to your tools?”

John looked at the young man with a serious demeanor. “Parry, you have taken over where I left off. As a trader and a barrel maker, you are better than I am. I have been trying to develop this farm as a place to raise and sell horses for years. With your trades, I finally have enough stock to begin selling and soon I will hire a man to help me with the running of the farm. My son is not yet old enough and my daughter will have to marry out of the area if she expects to find someone worthy. I sold some of the tools and stored the rest in the barn. Before I hire a man, I will have to finish off the shop as a bunk-house or as a second cottage for live in help.”

Parry looked at the two men that were traveling with him and got a nod from each of them. “I think that we should be able to do something about that.”

John looked at them and nodded. “Let me know what is fair in the way of recompense.”

“I’ll think of something. In the meantime, I think that I will familiarize these two with the farm as it stands and the materials that we have to work with. Are there any young men that need work around here?”

“I’ll call Jamison. Perhaps he will know a few men. In the meantime, did you know that the Plains folk will be here soon? You might get some good trades with them in person.”

Parry shook his head. “That is your part of the trade. I don’t wish to interfere.”

“You won’t be. I will be trading horses and my crops. It is well past time that you get full profit for your trade materials. Jamison has been helping me train the animals that I have and we have been trading with anyone that passes by. There are a few ranches up the road that have begun small herds but their resources don’t seem to be as good as mine.”

Again, Parry nodded to the man’s intention. The farm was well tended, protected by storms and seemed to turn an easy profit. If he had good help, he would do quite well.

The next few days saw the five of them and a crew of boys from several families nearby collecting rocks from the fields. Thankfully, many of the rocks had already been dug up by the plow and set in fence rows. Once the rocks were gathered, Parry’s companions, Darrell and Larry began working on the stonework that would form the fireplace of the bunk house and the trim walls that would make the building look more like it was a planned part of the farm. It would thus, better match the main house.

While Darrel set the stone, Larry helped him with supplies like an apprentice and the others brought the stone in. Parry arranged for some of them to bring in stone from a few other farms where it was needed. Thankfully it was at the end of the harvesting season, so there was plenty of help and food to go around.

About five days into the building of the facing and fireplace, Larry began building separating walls for a kitchen area and a couple of rooms. The cottage would make a good house for a live in or with the proper bedding, a proper bunkhouse for workers or traders that just happened to need a place to stay overnight. It only took days so they finished just in time for the meeting with the traders.

John walked out to meet the traders. One of them called out to him. “John! I see that you are adding onto your land. Did you have more children?”

“No. I am too old for more children. I am changing my business.”

“I hope that you are not giving up on keeping horses. You are one of our better traders in this area.” The lank Plainsman watched everything and missed nothing.

“No. Rather, I am going to concentrate on them while Parry here takes over the other trades. After all, it is he that supplies the new spices that you like so much.”

“You are a fair man, John. It always shows in your trades. Is this young man Parry as fair?”

“I think that he is. Let me take you to him.”

The leader or at least their representative of the Plainsmen walked with John to where the men were just finishing their woodwork. “I would like to introduce you to Parry, Larry and Darrel. Parry is the Cooper that makes the barrels that you so prize.”

“It is good to meet you, sir.” Said Parry for the group.

“Where do you plan on meeting us for your trades?” The short Plainsman asked.

Parry looked to John, who nodded in the affirmative. “I plan on meeting you here. That is part of why John has changed his shop. I have begun trading with the West Kingdom and the ships that trade in the Islands. We have new fruits, weed for chewing and smoking and a new powder that you can use to sweeten your cooking. Armad says that there are other new things that you will want to trade with us.”

“Who is this Armad that you speak of, your Partner?”

“In some ways yes, in many other ways, no. Mostly, he is a friend. He is also very knowledgeable. He came into our town with nothing and in a few short years has so many interests that he seems to be the busiest man in town. He is interesting, however.”

“How so?”

“He doesn’t seem fully happy.”

“What does he seem to be unhappy about?”

“He isn’t exactly unhappy. It is more like there is something missing in his life.”

“What makes you think so?” The Short man settled on a stump.

“He has many friends, men as well as women but he has no special friend and is always working on one project or another as if he is trying to fill his time. I conclude that something is missing in his life.”

“You trust him.”

“Yes sir. I trust him and almost everybody in town trusts him. He is not only knowledgeable but likeable and we have all learned to depend on him.”

“Since you trust him and I trust you, I suppose that we will extend our trust a bit farther. Bring us samples and we will find out if the things you bring are useful.”

“Good. Now to another question, I can vouch for these two men and as good workers but not as to their personal character. They will be working for John for a while but could you escort them towards Oman at some time?”

“We could, but we have no plans to stop here before going next to Oman. The next available time would be in the spring.”

Parry nodded, looked at his friends who nodded in return. “I will return in the spring with trade for you. By then, they should be done with their work.”

Once the meeting was done, John invited the men in for lunch. Already waiting were two people that Parry had not met before. Turning to the young lady that his interests were focused on, he noticed as she came out of the sleeping area that she was just finishing combing he long blond hair.

Lona skipped over to him and grabbed him by the arm and drug him further towards the table. “Parry, I’d like to introduce you to my best friend Nancy and her intended, Jamison. They are going to be married in the spring, just as soon as Jamison finds a good position. It was in this manner of lightheartedness that they finished the meal. Parry realized that Lona could just as easily meet another man and marry. He had not considered the possibility of Lona not being here when he came to trade. It was a strong feeling that he didn’t like. He realized that the trading didn’t mean as much to him as having the chance to be with the young lady. He would have to reassess their relationship.

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