First People

Act 2: Danger, fear... by Steve Hart

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The sense of danger overwhelmed Timpoochee like a gathering darkness.

He quickly surveyed the trees, the moss, the shrubs around him; the rocks that yielded the great oaks, the silverbell and basswood around him.

His fear urged him to dash up the mountain, to the safety of the spruce and the hemlock.

But the water called him back. That clear, flowing stream, refreshing and life giving. The creatures within it, fish and frogs and salamanders.

In an eddy at the bank’s edge Timpoochee peered into the crystal reflection of the sun spirit dancing on the surface of the long man...

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Act 133: They want to frighten you... by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee, Rising Fawn and the rest of their party cared as best they could for the sick and dying in the sacked village.

The people said a raiding party of Yonega and Choctaw attacked them, burned the forest around them. They said they did not know why.

“They want to frighten you,” Timpoochee explained to the people. “They want you frighten you away. They want you leave your homes, your land. They want you to vanish, disappear.

“Our old people tell a story about fear,” Timpoochee continued, as the shaken townspeople gathered around.

“A group of boastful young men once decided they would show how brave they were by traveling to the sun and defeating it.

“They set out following the sun on its trail through the sky. They figured they would catch it in its sleep at the edge of the world.

“When they arrived at the edge, where the sun reaches the ground each day, they found the sky was a vault of solid rock hung above the earth and swinging up and down so that when it swung up the sun could disappear behind it and rest for the next day.

“The boastful young men decided to chase the sun as it slid behind the swinging sky vault.

“The first one launched off behind the sun but was crushed as they sky vault swung back down on him.

“The rest of the boastful young men were too frightened to risk another try and they return to their land as defeated, humiliated old men.

“It is my way of telling you,” Timpoochee said to the townspeople. “The hubris which led these misguided warriors to destroy your people and your town is false and will fall back upon them.

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Act 134: We are making a mistake... by Steve Hart

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The breezes of Gola, the cold winter moons, continued blowing across the land and water despite signs that brighter life was returning after winter sleep.

Timpoochee Ulagu’s vessel - which he had acquired sight unseen from traders - deftly plied the waters of the sound as it headed west toward the grand Yonega trading post called Pensacola.

The winter had been difficult for Timpoochee.

Seeing so many other towns destroyed or ravaged left him shaken.

Leaving Rising Fawn to lead the mission of recovery for what they thought at the time was the worst destruction left him empty and without his touchstone and guiding force.

He’d felt singularly alone since then, despite being surrounded by his band of relatives and townsfolk; good, solid, loyal brothers upon whom he knew he could rely as pursued this mission of peace.

HIs mission was made so much worse, so much more difficult by so much destruction and death all along, all among his many peoples.

With the square-rigged sloop as close-hauled as it could be, Timpoochee and his small crew fought the wind and tides as best they could. Fortunately, he’d added to his crew some seasoned Yuchee sailors who proved invaluable to the mountain folk aboard the sailing vessel.

“Timpoochee Ulagu,” called Onacona from a forward deck. “I still think we are making a mistake by going to the Yonega settlement unannounced, without advance scout. They are not expecting us. Remember the Creek runners told us of war raging it its harbor.”

“All those things are not news to me,” my little brother. “I am aware of the surprise - and of the dangers.”

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Act 135: You are always sure... by Steve Hart

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In the short time since he’d assumed the mantle of Ulagu - barely over one year - Timpoochee molded his manner into one commanding respect, exuding dignity even though he was still quite young.

He turned to Onacona, their eyes met, Timpoochee’s with intention.

“Our people made a pledge of peace and we will not go back on that pledge,” he said, sternly. “We are at war with no one and will be treated in like manner, I am sure.”

“You are always sure,” replied Onacona.

Timpoochee noted the disrespect in his tone.

“You were sure of peace in the dead and destroyed we found. You were sure of peace as the Creek warriors continue to fight. You were sure of peace as Yonega marches on us, as their wars continue all around us.”

“That is quite enough,” barked Timpoochee. “We are all quite aware of your resentment toward peace. Sometimes I think you wish you’d gone with your brother MoonLake to follow Tecumthe.

“You were born with the blood of the woodpecker, as was he. You will never be happy until you can satisfy that unhealthy quest for blood. What makes you a valued hunter makes you difficult as a man."

"We do not know of MoonLake," said Onacona. 

"We know," Timpoochee thought to himself but did not say. No one but Rising Fawn knows what the Nunnehi revealed.

“But if it is true what the runners told us of war of the Yonega harbor you will likely see your fill of spilled blood," Timpoochee said. 

“But I remind you of your station - that being peaceful, not prone to war.”

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Act 136: World of dreams... by Steve Hart

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“What will our peaceful people do when we are eventually faced with a decision to fight or die?” asked Onacona.

“A decision our people will never face,” Timpoochee replied, curtly.

“We will face it sooner or later if Yonega continues his blood-starved and land-starved ways and continues to claim more territory for himself,” Onacona countered.

“As long as we remain true to our pledge of peace and maintain our own land of plenty with generosity others will respect that,” Timpoochee insisted.

“Sometimes I think Ulagu lives in a world of dreams,” Onacona muttered, barely audible to Timpoochee. “He is caught in a trap which cannot, in the end, help our people.”

“Do you have more words?” Timpoochee called out in a loud voice. “Do you have something else to add to this pointless discussion?”

“No, Ulagu,” Onacona answered, stiffly. “Nothing.”

“Very good, then,” Timpoochee said. “We are nearing the Yonega bay and will need all eyes and ears trained on the sights and sounds of that place.”

The boat moved silently west along the sound, which to Timpoochee’s people was the “arm of the Long Man” leading to the Yonega settlement. The connotation held both pleasant and unpleasant meanings.

And given Timpoochee’s pledge of peace it was the only conduit for extending that pledge.

The sun was dropping and turning red in the far western sky as the vessel moved on.  

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Act 137: He felt uneasy... by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee’s boat moved languidly between the mainland and the long, thin island which protected the sound and mainland from the great sea.

The sea itself was often much quieter than the sound this time of year as the northern winds kept its surface low at a clean, slick top while the waters of the sound were often whipped to whitecaps.

Timpoochee steered his craft into a small bayou of the mainland, in the lee of the north winds.

It was a good spot for his crew to spend the final night’s camp before venturing into the Yonega bay on the sunrise. They could see the sound and would not be surprised from the land because anything riding on the north wind would warn them.

Although they were close to the point where the sound emptied into the vast bay Timpoochee knew better than to try to make the bay during darkness. The shoals of the sound were tricky, he’d been warned, and a night passage would be very dangerous with rumors of war between Yonega nations.

With the vessel securely anchored at the stern and tied off to a tree from the bows, Timpoochee’s men made their camp by gathering wood for a fire and lighting it with a flame carried from the village fire at home.

It would be a cold night for the travelers. But the sky was clear, no indication of Kanati thunder. But Timpoochee would not sleep much.

He felt uneasy knowing Yonega were near. He’d felt that since the time the Yonega sailors captured him and almost killed him - might have killed him had his father and the Yonega captain not intervened just in time.

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Act 138: Fear the worst... by Steve Hart

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“I still think it foolish to travel into the Yonega settlement when such danger is rumored,” Onacona grumbled as he went about his tasks preparing camp for the night.

“You are lucky, spirited one,” Timpoochee called back from the bows of the trading boat. “I am tolerant of your foolish and disrespectful mutterings. In another land, you might have your tongue cut out for such a crime.”

“Yes, Timpoochee Ugalu,” Onacona replied, tempered. “I understand and appreciate your forgiveness. It’s just that I fear the worst.”

“Your fears are no greater than mine,” Timpoochee said. “But we cannot allow fear to dictate our course. If we are to seek peace we will sometimes have to be aggressive in its pursuit, just as the hunter aggressively pursues a deer to provide for his family.”

Darkness fell and with it the chill of the night settled in.

Timpoochee’s men huddled around the small fire for warmth. They prepared the evening meal and ate in silence. After, they passed around a pipe of the ancient tobacco. They were smoking, feeling better, telling old stories when they first heard the sound in the bushes.

Big tlvdatsi, big cats, were known to travel the shoreline and tsulasgi, alligators, prowled the water.

Timpoochee motioned one of his men into the darkness, away from the noise, to circle around and discover its source.

Moments later the scout’s body came hurtling back through the palmetto-leaved ring around the camp.

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Act 139: Asesdiha? by Steve Hart

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“Yonega warriors!” shouted the scout as his body smashed to the ground, smack in front of Timpoochee and his team.

Just as suddenly, a band of soldiers bounced into the campsite. They were clad in bright shining armour and red clothing. They were not soldiers from the Yonega settlement, at least not the Yonega settlement Timpoochee knew.

They pointed their long, skinny guns directly at Timpoochee and his men.

“Alto!” shouted the bearded leader of the squad. “Levántate!”

Timpoochee understood nothing the soldier said. He spoke in a language unlike what was spoken in the Yonega settlement. This man was slightly darker than the people in the Yonega settlement. His eyes were like the night itself. He was bigger than most of the Yonega soldiers yet he was not hathagalgi nor fire people.

“Baja tus armas!” he commanded and pointed to Timpoochee’s party’s bows and spears.

Timpoochee understood the meaning of the message, if not the message itself, and ordered his men to toss to the sand their bows and tomahawks.

“Asesdiha,” Timpoochee said in a clear, strong voice while rising slowly to his feet. “Friend. I am Timpoochee Ulagu on a trading journey to the settlement of Pensacola.”

“Ah, Pensacola,” replied the soldier-leader, almost in a slight smile which immediately turned into a sour, angry expression.

“Tomad asiento!” No ustedes movimiento!” he barked.

He motioned toward the ground and Timpoochee ordered his men to be seated.

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Act 140: "Ven conmigo..." by Steve Hart

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The bearded captain ordered one of his men toward Timpoochee’s trading boat.

After a few minutes of searching the soldier stepped to the bow and reported back to the captain. Whatever he said pleased the captain who nodded and relaxed some.

“En tus pies,” the captain ordered, sweeping his arm upward. “Ven conmigo, pero no hagas ruido.”

He swung his arm in the arm, making the “forward” motion. Timpoochee understood somehow and ordered his men to follow the captain and his men.

The captain and his men led Timpoochee and his delegation through some thick and sharp-edged vegetation. Through grasses and palmetto fronds, even a shallow marsh.

They were loaded onto the captain’s small fleet of boats and rowed across the sound to the ribbon-like island on the opposite shore.

The band trooped from the island shore toward the high sand dunes, shining like gems under the bright moon.

They trudged down onto a wide, sandy path which led along the edge of the great sea. The water was flat, put to sleep by the cold, north wind.

Over his shoulder, Timpoochee suddenly noticed a bright light filling the sky. Flames leaped into the air.

Confusion and wonder filled his head. Why a fire this big? What could be burning?

HIs trading ship, he realized, was on fire.

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Act 141: May it be so... by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee felt ill inside; not physically sick but deep in his soul.

With his trading boat lost, burned by the soldiers, he and his crew were not only at the soldiers’ mercy but also stranded in the region, the only escape being on foot through unfamiliar terrain.

HIs men complained little as they were marched along the sand, despite their fear and the relentless ache of the cold wind.

To himself and very quietly he recited the ancient medicine of protection for warriors:

“Listen, please, give us the strength to lift up the red war club and render any foe motionless. May his soul be cast under the earth where the black war clubs move like ball sticks in the game.

“May it be so.

“May it be so.

“Never allow him again to lift up the war club but there, under the earth, may he be shrouded in a black fog forever, never again to move.

“May it be so.

“And under the earth may their souls be broken in two and both pieces be transported to new heavens where they shall walk in peace.

“Our souls have been shielded by the red war club and shall never be battered about.

“May it be so.

“Their souls shall be battered about and they will cry out with the white war whoop and their souls shall be turned to blue and peace for evermore.

“May it be so.”

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Act 142: Something was familiar... by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee’s ears were beginning to hurt from the cold when the sun edged over the horizon behind them.

By the time the sky filled with enough blue to light the path, he could see more Yonega soldiers lining dunes above them.

They were dressed in the same strange manner as Timpoochee’s captors. It struck him how something was familiar about their hard, shiny headdress. It looked like a ground melon which had been hollowed out like a tree trunk and painted with a bright gold dye.

It was not until he saw several of the soldiers boiling water in it that he remember why it looked so familiar: he remembered a pot which looked like that when he was a small boy in his own village. It had come from a soldier of the nation which first settled the Yonega village.

That’s who these Yonega soldiers are, he thought to himself, the precursors of the present Yonega village. The people who once lived there but left when he was a small boy.

Timpoochee and his men were marched to the end of the island. Giant ships were anchored in the great sea just off the pass into the bay.

Atop the highest dunes, the soldiers held tight to a makeshift camp which prominently featured cannons pointing north, across the bay, toward the large town.

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Act 143: Always the water... by Steve Hart

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From atop the dunes at the island’s point between the bay and sea Timpoochee saw the sprawling Yonega town itself and the large fort on a hill behind it.

Just off the island, to the south, in the sea, lay silently at anchor in the blue-green expanse a giant ship. “San Ramon,” were the words across its bows.

Timpoochee had never seen water quite that spectacular in color. It was as if his own mountain pools had been magnified and transformed by some magical force. The sight made him homesick for his beloved mountains and the streams and pools which linked them.

“The water, “ he thought. “Always the water. It is our constant.”

He was shaken from his momentary daydream by the soldiers who brusquely shuffled Timpoochee and his men down the hill toward scowls pulled up on the beach. They were loaded into the scowls and set sail across the wide bay.

To the west, atop red cliffs above the shore Timpoochee saw posts of cannons. Many were destroyed, burned and left to rot. Other were deposited in piles, shining like gold in the bright sunshine.

The red hills themselves were scarred and pot marked, like a giant storm had whipped the sea against them.

The boats sailed a bit further north, turning west into a lagoon. A bayshore warehouse stood out on the lonely wharf in the distance. It seemed vacant. The wharf was empty. The sight was bleak, disparaged.

Surrounding them in the bay huge war ships floated, cannons extended from their gunwales. The largest of the ships lay at anchor in the lagoon. Clearly, Timpoochee and his men were being taken there. As they slid closer Timpoochee looked for a name on the ship’s bows.

“Galveztown,” was the single Yonega word he found.

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Act 144: We are not here to fight... by Steve Hart

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“Are you satisfied, now, that war has reigned on the Yonega” asked Onacona from his seat aft in the scow.

“You will be quiet,” Timpoochee shot back. “We are not here to fight.”

“We may have little choice,” Onacona whispered. “From the looks of these soldiers they need little to find an enemy. Their eyes spoil for a fight.”

“Your eyes see only what they want to see. These warriors do not need us for enemies. We would have passed to the overworld already if it were so. They do not want to fight us.

“The knife in my breechcloth keeps a keen eye for assurance,” Onacona said.

“I see the knife,” Timpoochee warned without moving or gesturing. “If you take it out, the only chest into which it will find its way is yours.”

Timpoochee turned slowly toward Onacona. His eyes broke the morning like arrows of flame.

“I do not want to remind you again,” he said, softly and slowly. “Ours is a mission of peace. We have no quarrel here. You are forbidden to speak of war or take any actions toward it.’

Onacona said nothing but his sulking expression told Timpoochee the hot-blooded young warrior heard little of what he said.

The scow sailed swiftly up the lagoon until it neared the giant ship. Four, maybe more, cannons stood sentry at its gunwales.

The scow slid up to the ship. Sailors tied its lines to a landing platform.

Timpoochee was led up a walkway onto the deck. His men followed behind and remained topside as he was taken below.

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Act 145: "I have no need of him." by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee was led down a narrow corridor abaft the main deck until he was ushered into a dimly lit room filled with soldiers, desks, papers, maps and much talking.

The talk fell to silence as he was led into the room and the soldiers cleared to reveal an ornately uniformed man reclining on a settee in the corner of the room. His arm was bandaged and held to his chest by a cloth wrapped up and around his neck.

Timpoochee also noticed, standing silently in a dark corner of the room, a soldier he thought he recognized from the Yonega settlement.

“General Galvez, Sir!” spoke the lieutenant escorting Timpoochee. “Here is the leader of the captured natives we found in camp along the shore opposite Santa Rosa Island.

“Why is this man brought to me, Lieutenant?” The general responded, perplexed. “Send him to the holding pen with the other captives. I have no need of him.”

“He doesn’t seem to be a fighting native, sir,” said the lieutenant. “Neither he nor his party held any weapons. Their ship held only corn and skins, as if to trade.”

“Nonsense, Lieutenant!” the general barked. “All these Indians are fighting! And fighting us! Send him to the pen before he starts trouble on my ship.”

“Yes, sir,” replied the lieutenant. “But the holding pen is growing full, sir. What shall we do with all the extras?”

“I wish I had not pledged to General Campbell to protect the prisoners,” said the general, to no one is particular.

“If it appears any trouble will brew among the lobster-backs have some of them taken to sea and pushed off a ship’s deck. The British will surely not miss a few of their savage allies and the sharks will be happy.”

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Act 146: Made to be broken by Steve Hart

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“Si, Señor,” replied the lieutenant and respectfully bowed.

He took Timpoochee by the shoulder and turned him toward the door to exit.

“Begging the general’s pardon, sir,” came a voice from the dark corner of the room. It was the soldier Timpoochee thought he recognized from the Yonega settlement.

“I believe I know this man,” continued the soldier. I have seen him in the company of the Indian trader, William Panton.

“Very well, Colonel Dickson,” said the general, in English. “Who is he and why has he been brought to me and presented as something less than a warrior?”

Timpoochee understood some of the English words and welcomed them.

“I believe his name is Timpoochee,” said Dickson. “Our troops call him Timpoochee Kinnard or, sometimes, Sam Story. He is Ugalu, chief, leader of a large community in the great mountains of the Blue Ridge, the land his people call, Shaconage.”

Timpoochee, delighting in the understood words, nodded his agreement.

“His are not a warrior people,” Dickson said. “Only a short year or two ago they made a pledge of peace and to my knowledge he has never gone back on that pledge.”

Timpoochee straightened his back.

“He speaks correctly,” he said to the general, nodding to Dickson. “Our pledge was made to honor the spirit of Yufala Tastanagi Ugalu. It will never be broken.”

“All pledges are made to be broken,” General Galvez chortled. “That is their only true purpose. Isn’t that right, Col. Dickson?”

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Act 147: This chief is of neither... by Steve Hart

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“I suppose I am here as a result of a broken pledge,” said Dickson, the Yonega soldier from the shadows. “But begging the general’s pardon, that is a matter between you and the French Navy.”

“Hrumph, yes, I suppose it is,” muttered General Galvez, clearly embarassed by the colonel’s remark. “Nevertheless, we have the matter of this Indian. What do you suppose I do with him, if not send him to the stockade with the rest?”

“He is truly not involved in the fighting, General,” said Colonel Dickson. “Those fighting the British are the Choctaw and the Creek. This chief is of neither and has little to do with them at all.

“Why not surrender him and his men to me and I will hand them over to the Trader Panton for protection during the siege.”

“Very well, Colonel Dickson,” said the general. “You may transport him and his men to Panton if he will agree to watch over them.

“On one condition, however: they will not be allowed to return to their home, to their people, until this fighting is over. We can’t have these renegades marching all over the countryside, whipping up more redskin wars.”

“Yes, sir,” Dickson replied. “I am sure Mr. Panton ad Governor Chester will make sure this man and his party do not return to their people.”

“Now,” General Galvez shifted the conversation.”As to my reply to General Campbell’s request the town of Pensacola itself be spared any damage and prisoners of war be set free...”

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Act 148: Demonstraton of my pledge... by Steve Hart

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The general shifted on his couch, sat up and motioned for his secretary.

“Assistante,” he ordered. “Come here and let me dictate a letter for Colonel Dickson to return to General Campbell.

“You understand, Colonel, I would have been glad to negotiate an assurance of safety for your general had he not insisted on attacking my encampments while still negotiating.”

“I am only a messenger, General,” replied Dickson. “And still, technically, a Spanish prisoner. I make no illusions toward agreement with General Campbell’s decisions.”

“Dear Sir,” the general began dictating. “I have received the letter from you in which you make to me the proposals that prisoners of war be set at liberty and that the women and children remain in the settlement of Pensacola, hoping that on my part I will give rigorous order to prevent the troops and seamen of my expedition from causing them any loss

“The mischance of finding myself somewhat indisposed deprives me of the satisfaction of answering you on the aforementioned particulars but, nevertheless, I have asked Lt. Colonel Dickson to explain to you my manner of thinking. May God keep you may years.

“Aboard the Galveztown, I remain your most affectionate servant, Bernardo de Galvez.”

The general smiled silently and sat straight up on the couch.

“Please tell the general and governor I am sending this Indian and his men as a demonstration of my pledge to leave unharmed the people of Pensacola.”

“Yes, sir,” Dickson replied. “I will so inform the general and governor.”

The colonel turned to Timpoochee and motioned for him to follow but not before he heard the Spanish general issue another order.

“Have the grenadiers camped on the island assume battle formation,” he said. “And make them visible so that Colonel Dickson can report to General Campbell of their class and readiness.”

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Act 149: "You seem to think..." by Steve Hart

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Darkness was covering the bay by the time the Colonel Dickson’s scow bearing Timpoochee and his men reached the wharf at the settlement’s shore.

Meeting the boat were sour-looking, depressed wharf hands, no doubt losing much in wages and spirit in the weeks since began the Spanish siege of the town.

As the scow edged ever closer to the wharf a brilliant light filled the sky over Timpoochee’s shoulder. He turned to see flames leaping into the sky from the red cliffs fort on the island to the south.

“Those bastards!” cursed Colonel Dickson. “They didn’t even wait for a response from Galvez before they attacked the Spanish camps again!

“How do they expect the Spanish to arrange a cease fire when they attack?”

“It seems a curious part of Yonega war,” Timpoochee spoke up. “That you should be displeased when your warriors destroy your enemy’s post.”

“You speak more English than I presumed,” Dickson said, with a start.

“I speak enough of your language to understand some things,” Timpoochee said.

“What is displeasing is that my superiors would order such an attack while also trying to arrange relief and safety for the people of Pensacola ,” continued Dickson without hesitation.

“You are asking that one part of the settlement be spared from attack while another part carries on the battle?”

“I suppose that seems strange and silly to your mind.”

“It seems admirable to try to save the women and children of the settlement,” Timpoochee offered. “But I do not see how the fort and town can be separated. Those cannons must have strong power, indeed - the swiftness of an arrow but the destruction of a great storm.”

“You see, Sam Story - yes, I know you by that name,” Dickson said. “It is only the military, the warrior post, that should be the object of battle. The Spanish want desperately to rout my army from this region but retain the settlement intact for their own exploitation.”

“I will never understand the Yonega mind,” Timpoochee said. “You seem to think land and people can be owned, controlled, possessed.”

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Act 150: Only through peace... by Steve Hart

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“The Spanish seek control of this entire coast,” Colonel Dickson explained to Timpoochee.

“They have taken Baton Rouge and Mobile and, together with their French allies, will eventually succeed over the broader region.

“Because of the looming rebellion in the American colonies my high command is unable to send reinforcements for the small contingent we have here.”

“You believe your warriors will be defeated,” Timpoochee asked.

“I believe our army is out-manned, outnumbered,” Dickson replied. “I saw what happened in Baton Rouge, where I was taken prisoner. The Spanish navy is strong. We can only hold out here for so long.”

“You are weak, then,” Timpoochee offered. “You are ready to give up, go back on whatever commitment you have in the interests of saving your life?”

“That is not true, my shrewd Indian friend,” the colonel retorted.” There is a difference between giving up and realizing one is defeated and it’s time to salvage what dignity and property one might have.

“I should think you would know that better than anyone, with you pledge of peace.”

“Our pledge of peace is not an excuse for not fighting in battle,” Timpoochee said. “It is a battle itself. It is a constant battle to refrain from war in this war-torn time. It is our greatest oath taken.

“Ours is a greater battle than your people will ever know. Ours is a battle for what belongs to us, our world. Through war we can only lose it. Only through peace can we keep it.”

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Act 151: Land belongs to you? by Steve Hart

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The scow sloshed gently toward the closing shoreline, the wharfs of the British settlement under an eerie siege.  

“Both armies are fighting for the right to keep the land which rightfully belongs to us,” Colonel Dickson said.

“And you believe land belongs to you? Was it yours from the beginning or did you take it?” Timpoochee asked. “Yonega wants land only to possess it. Our people need the land, the water, the sky to live. Without them we will die.”

“You will die if the Spanish take control of this land,” Dickson threatened. “That’s why you and your Choctaw and Creek cousins are fighting for the British.”

“Our brothers are fighting for the British, not my people,” Timpoochee corrected. “Because it will hurt their own cause to do otherwise. It will hurt our cause to battle at all.”

The two men said nothing else as they landed and began unloading the contents of the boat onto the wharf.

Dickson led Timpoochee and his men from the wharf, past the town’s square, through narrow streets and along a potted landscape toward the fort where General Campbell and Governor Chester would be waiting for Galvez’ reply.

The party walked into the fort and Timpoochee was shocked how it had changed since the first time he’d visited. Its Yonega-army tidiness was gone, a casualty, he supposed, of months of Spanish siege.

Painted signs and banners about the American colonies no longer hung from its buildings.

Dickson marched, without hesitation, into the office of the British governor. Timpoochee followed him, motioning for his men to remain just outside in the fort’s plaza.

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