Wicker pg. 3 - Concerning the Explorers

At the door, Warren Fuller pulled me aside.  “I thank you for defending me,” he said.

“You would do as much for anyone so maliciously accused.  Will you make a fourth for our party to-morrow?”

Warren looked away.  “No.  It would not be meet,” he said, and went to rejoin Sophia.

Martha too was fearful that the venture would prove more ill-starred than enlightening.

“Witches or no, who can say what beasts may hunt within that mist?” she urged.

“I shall be able to say, once I have been behind it and met them.”

“But I fear you will not survive the encounter.  It is folly, Zachary.  Warren Fuller will not hang, though you allow the marshes to remain a mystery.”

“Dear Martha,” said I, holding her shoulders, “the matter has touched my curiosity.  If we believe what we are told of the marshes, shall we believe that the whole of the land to the west is entirely peopled with bogey-men, and civilization end here?  As I have said, a man with a clear conscience may venture forth without fear.  Your brow” – I kissed it – “shows that you have given yourself worries enough for a life half again as long as you’ve had.”

Thus, Ethan, Henry, and myself started for the wicker marshes the next day.  Domestic duties precluded us from setting off before the afternoon.  Each of us had a wallet over his shoulder, packed with a few victuals and other provisions.  In addition, I had brought a large leathern sack I jokingly said I intended to use for witch-hunting; and Henry had brought his Indian scimitar, for the more practical purpose of clearing a way through such vegetation as should bar our passage.

While we are engaged in traversing the wild meadow which lies between Hannah’s Rock and the marshes, I shall touch briefly on the characters of my companions.  When Henry was born, I had already learned to speak in simple sentences.  He spent the rest of his childhood and adolescence struggling to match my pace.  Our parents did not allow him the liberties they had allowed me at the same age.  They perceived him as the weaker of us, and his demeanor gradually came to match their perception.  As a result, an air of surliness was continually about him.  At the time I write of, exactly as long ago today as my own birth had been when my brother came into the world, he had established a fine house and family, but did not enjoy as much respect in the community as myself.

Ethan Norton, though also my junior, was my social equal.  I held his intellect in the highest regard.  Ethan was the sole representative of a first generation of Hannah’s Rock natives.  His father had come hither to escape the demanding life which was to have been his destiny as his father’s heir, and found serenity at Hannah’s Rock.  Ethan, like his grandfather, found prominence where prominence was to be had.  Despite his ancestors’ strong history, as the first to be born at Hannah’s Rock, my friend saw in himself the progenitor of his own sub-lineage.  We shared a fondness for riddles, among other common interests, and though it galls me to confess it, in some respects I had a more fraternal relationship with Ethan than with my own brother.

The End

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