Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales, the blog stop where books are born and written based on weekly word or picture prompts. This week’s word is BONE.
I find it hard to believe September is here and that we’re only seventeen days from the first day of fall. Around here, the summer continues with the same heat and humidity of July and August. I’m hoping a long hot summer won’t mean a long cold winter. With that thought in mind, I’m plunging you back into the winter of 1667 in New France, continuing with The Price of Courage, Book Two of the Canadiana Series.
On a flat, packed surface, using snowshoes was reasonably simple, but in deep fresh snow like this, it took a great deal of effort and going up or down hill presented an additional challenge. Lucien’s first winter had been a nightmare, the pain in his hip bones at the end of each long day enough to make a grown man cry. But he’d learned and mastered the art, just as he’d learned to ski—his life had depended on it. If these men had been traveling three days—longer given the length of the storm—the first day must’ve been excruciating. Even with prior deaths at the estate, they would’ve been provisioned for the winter. Why the rush to leave now?
There’d been blood on Bouchard’s hands. Animal or human? His stomach clenched. He would find dead men at the estate, of that he was certain, but he doubted the cause of death would be fevers.
Cresting the hill, the trail continued northeast. Lucien stopped and sniffed. There was smoke on the wind.
“Do you smell that?” he asked.
Yves nodded. “Yes, and it’s not from a campfire. Maybe they smelled the smoke this morning and went to check. That could explain their coming from that direction.”
Lucien shook his head. “Possibly, but I find it easier to believe they caused the fire and were running from it,” he answered grimly. Campfires rarely got out of hand, but when they did, they could cause a great deal of damage even in winter.
Moving again, they’d walked little more than an hour, the smell of charred wood growing stronger as they pushed north, when Okwaho’s eagle cry warned them he was nearby. They stopped, waiting for the Mohawk to join them.
“Did they send anyone?” Lucien asked as soon as the scout was close enough.
“Not long after you crested the hill, two of the men came back—no packs, just muskets,” the Mohawk answered. “I growled like a wolf to get their attention. When they turned toward me and saw nothing, I howled. Both men screamed, made the sign of the cross, and fell over themselves in their haste to get away. I waited, but no one else returned. I have been watching behind me, doubling back to be sure.” He sniffed the air. “Burned flesh. Not good.”
“You’re sure?” he asked the scout, knowing instinctively that the Mohawk was right.
That’s it. Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on Tuesday Tales.