The Beast Chapter 1 Monlutha‟s round face was lifted toward the rising moon. He turned to his cousin with a question. “Mingo,” he said pensively, “You know so many things. How does it all fit inside your head? My head aches trying to remember what little I know.” Mingo smiled as he finished spitting the freshly caught fish. “What in particular are you referring to? Maybe if I knew the specifics of your question I could better answer.” “Specifics? What are specifics? See, this is what I mean. Often I do not even know what you are talking about.” Monlutha hung his head with defeat. Mingo carefully placed the fish so that they would evenly roast. Then he looked at the boy sitting dejectedly across the fire. He slid to sit beside his cousin. Patting Monlutha‟s leg, Mingo leaned over and rephrased his answer. “What do I know that you‟d like to know?” The boy didn‟t respond for several seconds. Unexpectedly, he blurted out his answer. “You can read the white man‟s language.” Taken aback, Mingo stared at the bent head beside him. Before him sat one of Chota‟s future leaders. Processing Monlutha‟s response, Mingo let his gaze follow the moonlight. A rapid motion caught his eye. Startled, he leaped to his feet, grasped his rifle and knelt facing the object. Behind him he heard Monlutha flatten to the ground as he had been taught. “Stay here,” Mingo ordered. Slowly he stood, soundlessly slipped into the woods and disappeared. Long minutes passed as Monlutha scanned the forest, watching for his cousin‟s return. When Mingo didn‟t quickly come back he busied himself tending the roasting catfish. So intent upon his task was he that he didn‟t hear Mingo‟s soft footsteps. Monlutha jumped in surprise when the man‟s voice came from over his left shoulder. “Those fish are done. You have roasted them well.” Mingo‟s praise couldn‟t counterbalance Monlutha‟s shame at being so unaware and careless. He withdrew into himself, refusing to eat. Mingo allowed the behavior for a short time, then corrected the boy sulking before him. “Monlutha, eat your fish. Your mistake was grave, yes, but not fatal. Learn from it and do not repeat it.” In an effort to distract Mingo from his stupid error, Monlutha tore a small bite from the fish and formed a safe question. “What did you find in the forest, Mingo?” His eyes bright with understanding, Mingo allowed himself to fall for Monlutha‟s bait. “Nothing was there. I must have seen the leaves reflecting the moonlight.” Monlutha frowned his disbelief. Mingo was far too experienced a warrior and hunter to mistake leaves twirling in the breeze for something tangible. Taught from infancy not to question his elders, Monlutha swallowed the lie with his fish. If Mingo did not want him to know what he‟d found, there was a good reason. He knew he was as safe with Mingo as in his own bed. Even so, he could not stop himself from looking into the forest where the motion had been. Nothing was stirring. Mingo began a tale about Youngdeer following the stars to a great hunting ground. Monlutha‟s eyes began to droop heavily. Without mentioning the reason, Mingo tossed the boy his camp blanket. He continued the tale as Monlutha rolled into it. Staring at the same stars that Youngdeer followed, the boy dropped into sleep. Mingo stopped the tale and sat quietly, allowing the fire to burn to coals. He kept his eyes on the place in the forest where he had seen the motion. Whatever it had been, it was gone. Rolling into his own blanket, Mingo laid close to Monlutha, blocking the boy from the side of the forest where the creature was lurking. His right hand held his hatchet. His rifle was propped within reach. Drawing the cool night air into his lungs, he allowed his eyes to close. Slowly he drifted into a light sleep. The morning breakfast was half over when they were hailed from the forest. Monlutha leaped to his feet in happiness as Israel Boone bobbed eagerly through the trees. Behind him strode his tall father. Smiling, Mingo extended the coffee pot to Daniel. The two boys chatted non-stop, Israel doing most of the talking, Monlutha doing most of the nodding. Both men looked fondly at the boys. Taking a sip of coffee, Mingo leaned close to Daniel. “Did you happen to see something unusual in the trees as you approached our camp?” he asked quietly. Dan‟s face creased with a frown as he stared at his Cherokee friend. “Nope. What exactly are you curious about?” “I‟m not certain. But I know I saw something in the trees about thirty yards from our camp here.” “What time? Full dark?” Daniel asked. “Ah, no. Just before. Whatever it was, it was near the treetops.” “Probably a squirrel,” Daniel chuckled. “It would be unusual for a squirrel to be stirring that late,” Mingo replied. “Maybe your fire disturbed him. Or your loud and boisterous manner,” Daniel teased. Mingo chuckled softly. “No, Daniel, it was too large to be a squirrel. It must have been nearly double that size.” “A coon, then,” suggested Daniel. “It seemed to be the same color as a squirrel.” “You know how hard it is to tell color in the dark. Did you look for tracks this mornin‟?” Daniel sipped his coffee as his eyes searched the nearby trees. “Not yet. Frankly, I didn‟t want to give more weight to this creature. It‟s just a curiosity now. I don‟t want to spend this hunt tracking ghosts through the trees,” Mingo explained. With a nod, Daniel agreed. The two men fell silent as the boys continued their breakfast conversation between bites of warmed-over fish. An hour later the four were packed and well on their way to the promised hunt. Chapter 2 The evening found them near a beautiful limestone spring. Water bubbled from the rocks. The little pool formed by those rocks was the perfect size for soaking away the day‟s sweat. Both men and both boys lounged in the cool water for nearly an hour, the men talking and the boys splashing. Mingo was the first to pull himself from the water. Within seconds he was dressed. Daniel followed and the two easily constructed a snug camp. The yearling deer they‟d shot in late afternoon was ready to roast before the sun set. The men sat drinking coffee while the boys canvassed the woods for interesting tidbits. Just before the moon rose Daniel called them in to the fire. Reluctantly the boys obeyed. As they sat before the blaze, struggling to keep their eyes open, the two young friends poured over their bounty. They had a collection of rocks to share. Israel had found a twisted and polished piece of knotted wood. Daniel admired the collection as Mingo tested the venison. Suddenly, all of them heard an usual sound. It was a blend of chattering and squealing. Both men grabbed their rifles as their eyes searched the trees. Israel and Monlutha scooted away from the fire. “What was that?” Daniel asked his friend standing beside him. “I don‟t know. I‟ve never heard anything like it. Have you?” Mingo asked nervously. “It‟s not familiar to me either. But it doesn‟t sound friendly,” Daniel observed. Exchanging a long look with Mingo, Daniel walked toward the sound. Mingo remained standing in the camp, his dark eyes searching the perimeter. “What was that, Mingo?” Israel asked boldly. The Cherokee shook his head. Eyes wide, the two boys stared at each other. Neither one had ever known Mingo to be stumped by a creature of the Kentucky forest. He served the boys their dinner but kept on his feet. Silently he walked around the camp just out of the firelight‟s circle. After nearly an hour Daniel returned. The two men whispered together. Then they came back into the light. Though Monlutha was aching with curiosity, he held his tongue politely. Not so Israel. He peppered his father with question after question. “What was it Pa? Did you see it? Is it going to come back? Is it dangerous?” Daniel sliced a large portion of meat from the carcass and took a bite. As he chewed he answered his impetuous son. “I don‟t know what it was, son. But if it‟s like any other animal me and Mingo know, it won‟t come near the fire. You just eat up and let us deal with the wild things.” Israel mulled the answer in his mind for the space of ten seconds. Then he launched another set of questions. “Are you „n Mingo goin‟ to set up all night? Are you goin‟ to catch the animal? Won‟t you be too tired to hunt tomorrow? Can me „n Monlutha stay up too?” Mingo intercepted the boy‟s questions. “No, Israel, you and Monlutha will sleep as usual. Your father and I will take turns keeping watch. We will be quite able to hunt tomorrow. Now, enough questions. Finish eating, drink your coffee and bundle up to sleep.” “But….” Israel began. Both men sent looks of command across the fire. Miffed but obedient, Israel wrapped in his blanket as Monlutha was doing. Together the boys snuggled down only inches apart. Before Daniel finished his coffee they were breathing deeply in sleep. The two men sat watching the boys. Then, with a final cup in their hands, they murmured together. “There are two conclusions we may draw, Daniel. Either the animal is following us, or there are more than one of them.” Daniel shook his head. “Maybe both.” Mingo‟s eyebrows shot up as he digested Daniel‟s comment. “That doesn‟t make me feel very easy.” Grinning, Daniel agreed. “Me either. But it‟s a possibility.” “Do you think maybe whatever the animal is, it is domestic?” Now Daniel‟s eyebrows shot toward his hairline. “What kind of domestic animal would travel near the tops of trees and screech like a banshee?” Mingo thought a moment, then pursed his lips. “None that I can think of. You‟re right. I admit that this, whatever it is, is bothering me.” “Me too. So, you want first watch?” Daniel asked as he chewed a last slice of venison. As his answer Mingo grasped his rifle, pulled his blanket around his shoulders and took up a position near the spring. Daniel finished his meal, rolled into his blanket, and closed his eyes. He was startled from a deep sleep by Mingo‟s cry of surprise. The two boys sat up, their eyes cloudy with dreams. Grabbing his rifle as he ran, Daniel was beside Mingo in only seconds. He found the Cherokee inspecting his blanket. “What happened?” Daniel asked breathlessly. With a look of embarrassment on his face, Mingo answered. “Something pulled my blanket off my shoulders. It surprised me.” Daniel looked askance at his friend. “Are you sure you didn‟t doze off and get tangled on a bush or something?” Mingo replied with obvious irritation. “I wasn‟t asleep. Something tugged on my blanket as surely as a child would do. Are both the boys still in camp?” “Right where you left „em,” Daniel said confidently. “It felt just like a child. I didn‟t hear anything, or see anything, and then my blanket jerked off my shoulders.” Mingo‟s face in the moonlight was filled with puzzlement. “Let me stand the watch now and see if it happens to me,” Daniel suggested. Shooting the same irritated look from his eyes, without another word Mingo draped his blanket over Dan‟s shoulders and walked back to camp. After assuring both boys that nothing was wrong, he stretched out in Daniel‟s blanket. As an example to the boys he closed his eyes. But his mind replayed the experience over and over until sleep blurred the memory. Chapter 3 Waking with the first light, Mingo revived the fire, heated the morning coffee, then slipped to the pool to find Daniel gazing into the surrounding trees. He handed the sleepy man the steaming cup. “Nothing pulled your blanket?” Mingo sighed. “I‟m not making it up, Daniel. You know me well enough to believe me.” With a crooked smile Daniel nodded. “I do. But to tell you the truth, I kinda hoped somethin‟ would tug on my blanket so I could have a story to tell too. Whenever we‟re together it seems to me that you get all the good campfire stories.” The two men laughed together. As Daniel stood to accompany Mingo back to the fire, the Cherokee happened to look into the light-suffused trees. He grabbed Daniel‟s arm. Wordlessly he pointed to the top of the elm right above them. Peering down, a small furry face twisted from side to side, its curiosity obvious. “I see it Mingo!” Daniel whispered excitedly. “What is it?” “It can‟t be what it looks like,” Mingo replied, his voice filled with doubt. “What do you think it is? Have you seen one before? Where?” Daniel‟s imitation of his son caused Mingo‟s face to split into a wide grin. “Now Israel, I mean Daniel, I‟m not sure. I‟d like to see it closer. Don‟t get so excited,” Mingo teased. The two boys, roused by the men‟s voices, stood a few feet away also looking up into the trees. Israel ran to his father and clutched the tall man‟s hand. “Pa! Let me have it! Can I have it?” “Don‟t you think you‟ve got enough critters to home?” Daniel asked with amusement. “I ain‟t got an animal like this one! Let me have it Pa. Pleeease!” Israel turned his best begging expression up to his father. “We don‟t even know what it is yet, Israel. It may be that you‟d regret ever laying hands on it,” Mingo reasoned. “Huh-uh, Mingo. I know it‟d like me. Look at it! It‟s still lookin‟ at us. It likes us!” Israel corrected. Monlutha stood silently gazing up at the animal. Unlike Israel he followed the Cherokee teaching and did not beg or interrupt his elders. But like Israel his boy‟s heart ached for the curious little creature. Quietly he walked to stand beside his cousin. “Mingo,” he said softly, “it does look friendly.” The Cherokee boy stood at the base of the elm. Chattering softly to itself the little animal began to descend. All four people stood still, waiting. In fits and starts the animal approached. When it was only four feet above Mingo he addressed Daniel without turning his head. “It is a monkey, Daniel. How or why it‟s here, I have no idea. But these creatures are common pets aboard ships. They also appear in medicine shows and circuses.” Israel darted forward to stand beside Monlutha. The monkey reacted to the boy‟s sudden arrival and scurried back into the branches. Monlutha gave Israel a sideways glance of irritation. “He was coming down. Now you scared him,” Monlutha scolded. “I did not! Mingo talkin‟ so loud scared him,” Israel replied with his own irritation. Daniel squeezed his son‟s shoulder warningly. “Come with me, Israel,” Dan demanded. His features pulled into a pout, Israel reluctantly obeyed. He dragged his feet as he trailed his father back toward the camp. Mingo stepped back a few feet, leaving Monlutha standing beside the elm. Softly the man addressed the boy. “Stay very still, Monlutha. I think he will come to you. I think he‟s seeking human companionship. He‟ll probably come down and reach for your shoulder. Let him come at his own speed and he should settle there.” The boy hardly breathed as he did as his cousin instructed. The small brown monkey again peered down from the branches. Slowly he began to descend. Still chattering softly, he tentatively reached out his long-fingered hand. Monlutha held completely still. Suddenly the monkey deserted the tree and leaped onto the boy‟s shoulder. One long arm encircled the boy‟s neck. Then its bright eyes locked onto Mingo‟s. The man released an amused chuckle. “Let‟s go back to camp now, Monlutha. You can walk normally. He‟ll balance on your shoulder.” Mingo walked behind his charge as the boy slowly returned to camp. The little monkey rode Monlutha‟s shoulder, facing backwards to keep Mingo in his sight. A dozen yards from camp Mingo rapidly rounded Monlutha to stifle Israel‟s outburst. Dan and Israel stared as Monlutha proudly walked into camp with the monkey on his shoulder. The little creature rode the boy like it was his familiar mode of travel. Its bright eyes traveled from one human to the other. For some reason it seemed to again settle on the Cherokee man. Without warning it leaped from Monlutha‟s shoulder to Mingo‟s. There it perched, its long tail curled under the man‟s arm and around his shoulder. One thin hand reached to fondle Mingo‟s feathers. Israel ran to Mingo and peered up at the monkey. It growled and showed its teeth. Taken aback, Israel stumbled. His feet tangled in his own blanket and he fell heavily. “He growled at me!” Israel shouted in dismay. “No monkey has ever growled at me before!” Daniel chuckled at his son‟s choice of words. “You‟ve never even seen a monkey before, Israel.” Monlutha stood at Mingo‟s side gazing up at the monkey. “Why does he like you, Mingo?” he asked wistfully. “I have no idea. Perhaps I remind him of a former owner,” Mingo replied as the monkey returned to fondling his feathers. “Maybe it‟s something about my feathers. I‟m the only one of us wearing any.” Israel immediately latched onto Mingo‟s explanation. “Let‟s shoot a turkey, Pa, so I can get some feathers too. Then he‟ll like me!” Daniel approached Mingo‟s side. The monkey stayed perched on the Indian‟s shoulder but he glanced nervously at the other man. He sidled around to Mingo‟s other shoulder. His meaning was clear: Mingo was his clear choice. Mingo lifted his eyebrows in reluctant acceptance. “Well, my fellow hunters, it looks as though we have been adopted by a monkey.” “Too bad he can‟t help us do anything,” Israel grumbled. “Maybe I could teach him to chop wood for the campfire.” “Rather doubtful, Israel. I don‟t think he could lift the hatchet,” Mingo chuckled. “But I suspect he has already been trained for a purpose. They are clever little beasts, from what I understand.” Israel lifted his freckled face. “Where did you ever see one?” “On my journey to England. The first mate on the ship had one. He was called Caesar. I remember he would climb the rigging and swing from the sails.” Mingo‟s eyes grew distant as the memory blossomed in his mind. “The monkey didn‟t like all the crew. He‟d play some really nasty tricks.” “Like what?” Israel asked, his interest growing by the second. “Did he bite?” “Yes, he did. And these little fellows have very sharp teeth. You must be careful not to irritate him, Israel. Monkeys are not mild creatures,” Mingo warned. “He was called Caesar as a play on words. Anything he took a fancy to, he grabbed.” “Who was Caesar?” Israel asked. “A Roman emperor who was fond of grabbing territory. But the name also sounded like „seize her‟.” As Mingo realized the implications of his last allusion, he shot a look at Daniel. The frontiersman was shaking his head in warning, but his familiar crooked smile was plastered across his face. “Mingo,” Monlutha said softly. “Can I hold him again?” In reply, Mingo leaned over. The monkey balanced carefully, holding onto Mingo‟s long black hair. “Stand still, Monlutha. He‟ll soon make the transfer.” Seconds later the monkey did as Mingo predicted. He settled on Monlutha‟s shoulder. His nimble little fingers began to play with the boy‟s bead necklace. Monlutha laughed in delight. Israel stood nearby, his face filled with longing and disappointment. Monlutha saw, and walked slowly to stand by Israel. Israel reached a hand to pet the monkey. But the animal would have none of Israel. With a quick show of teeth, he scampered to Monlutha‟s other shoulder. There he sat scolding the blonde boy. Tears formed in Israel‟s light eyes. Daniel looked up from frying the breakfast venison. “Son, animals have bad memories and good memories same as people do. Could be this little critter was tormented by someone who looks like you. He can‟t help it any more than you can.” His face reflecting his internal anguish, Israel gave the monkey one more longing look, then bent to help Mingo prepare for the day‟s hunting. Chapter 4 Christened “Caesar Two”, the monkey became part of the hunting party. There was no way to leave him behind. Little face pulled into a scowl, he absolutely refused to leave Mingo. No matter what Mingo was doing, the monkey insisted on riding on the man‟s left shoulder. There he perched on his haunches, his fingers interwoven in the Indian‟s heavy black hair. Monlutha walked contentedly behind his cousin, his eyes never leaving the monkey. Israel and Daniel walked a hundred yards away from Mingo to his right. Israel was obviously angry. He made his distress known by heavy sighs and sharp glances to his left. He walked behind his father, mumbling under his breath. Finally Dan turned, grabbed his son by the shoulder, and sat the pouting boy on the nearest fallen tree. Pushing his cap off his sweating forehead, the man knelt before his fuming son. “Israel, grumbling and complaining won‟t change the facts. Mingo didn‟t take that monkey. Monlutha didn‟t either. Caesar prefers them. There‟s nothing they can do about it. There‟s nothing me or you can do about it.” A smile lifted Daniel‟s lips as he continued. “I think they‟ve got a sure-fire whirlwind that‟ll turn Chota upside down. Caesar‟d be worse‟n Rosebud, Hannibal and your pet coon put together. Count your blessings, boy.” “He‟s not a whirlwind, Pa. He‟s ridin‟ on Mingo‟s shoulder quiet as can be,” Israel corrected. Daniel glanced at his friend‟s tall back nearly invisible through the trees. “Un-huh. And how is Mingo supposed to shoot anything with that monkey on his shoulder?” Israel‟s blue eyes widened as the new thought entered his mind. “Oh. I didn‟t think about that Pa. I guess he can‟t.” Dan stood and tapped his son‟s shoulder. “Now let‟s get goin‟. With Caesar holdin‟ him back, now‟s our chance to best Mingo and get a big buck.” Israel leaped to his feet. He trotted rapidly through the forest, calling behind him. “C‟mon, Pa! Hurry!” Sighing in gratitude for Israel‟s distractibility, Daniel hefted his rifle and strode to catch his eager son. A hundred yards to the northwest Mingo gestured for Monlutha to stop. Through the trees ahead of them grazed three deer. One was a large buck. Caesar raised up to see what Mingo was looking at. He twisted his small body to try for a better look. Unsuccessful, he instantly climbed higher. Mingo was pulled off balance by the monkey clambering to sit on his head. He felt his feather holder pull his hair painfully as the simian‟s body pushed against his feathers. Too unsteady to lift his rifle, he raised his left arm to try and dislodge Caesar. But the monkey resisted the attempt and dug into Mingo‟s hair with his nails. Monlutha reached to drag Caesar from Mingo‟s head. The man was too tall, and Monlutha was only successful in grabbing Caesar‟s long curling tail. With a loud screech Caesar turned on Monlutha. He tried to scratch the boy‟s hand. In leaning forward, he lost his balance. Trying to save himself, he dug his nails into Mingo‟s scalp. Yelping at the stinging surprise, Mingo grabbed for the monkey. The combination of actions was too many, and Mingo was dragged backwards. He toppled over into the soft leaf litter. Caesar leaped clear, scolding and screeching. Monlutha saw the three deer scatter and take to their heels. Daniel arrived seconds later to find Mingo sitting in the dirt, Caesar trying to climb back onto his shoulder and Monlutha helpless with laughter. The little monkey used Mingo‟s arm like a tree. In seconds he was again perched on the Cherokee‟s shoulder, petting the feathers that now hung at a sixty degree angle from the back of Mingo‟s head. “What happened?” Daniel asked, trying to smother his grin. “Can‟t you walk with a monkey on your shoulder?” Mingo shot Daniel a bolt of anger from his flashing dark eyes. “You want to try?” he asked pointedly. “Nope. Wouldn‟t deprive you of the privilege,” Daniel returned, his own eyes sparkling with fun. Israel took the opportunity to reach for Caesar‟s back. The monkey allowed his touch for a few seconds, then turned with bared teeth. Israel instantly snatched his hand back to safety. Daniel pulled his son‟s arm. “I think I know where a nice buck is headin‟, son. Could be we could get him. C‟mon.” Leaving Mingo still sitting in the damp litter, Daniel pushed Israel ahead of him in the direction the deer had scattered. Monlutha smothered one last laugh. Mingo gave him a look of irritation as he tried to reattach his feathers in their customary position. While he was doing that, Monlutha looked around for something to take Caesar‟s mind off of Mingo‟s feathers. Half-buried in the old litter he found a bedraggled turkey feather. Triumphantly he handed the feather to the monkey. Caesar played with it for a few seconds, then dropped it with disgust. He returned to running his fingers through the feathers on Mingo‟s head. “I‟m sorry, cousin. I tried to find something for Caesar to play with,” Monlutha said. With a final touch to the bleeding scratches hidden beneath his hair, Mingo picked up his rifle. “I know, Monlutha. It seems that this monkey is to be my burden for at least a while. Keep looking, though. Maybe we can find something to take the place of my feathers. Otherwise I‟m going to have to detach them before he pulls out a hunk of my hair.” In the distance they heard the bark of Daniel‟s rifle. Pursing his lips in annoyance, Mingo jerked his head toward the sound. Together he and Monlutha headed east. On Mingo‟s left shoulder, his furry face set in an expression of happiness, rode Caesar Two. The four people and one monkey returned to the spring camp two hours later. The large, healthy buck had been dressed. Dan, Mingo and Monlutha busily cut the abundant meat into thin strips. Israel occupied himself hanging the strips from the nearby bushes to dry. Caesar lay sleeping on Mingo‟s blanket. Afternoon heat made everyone sluggish so there was little conversation. Israel finished hanging the last available strips, then wandered to camp and laid down. In seconds he was asleep. Monlutha‟s heavy eyes betrayed his own sleepiness. With a smile of affection Mingo suggested that he join Israel. Daniel‟s long night of watchfulness was catching up with him and he yawned repeatedly. Finally Mingo tapped his large arm and gestured to the camp. “Join the boys, Daniel. We are nearly finished. I will prepare tonight‟s meal. Then I too will take a short nap.” Daniel made no protest. Mingo finished cutting the meat ten minutes later, dipped water into his camp pot, cut the remaining venison roast in two and placed it in the coals. He added two more sticks of wood. Deciding not to disturb the monkey asleep on his blanket, he sat down in the shade. Then, with a deep sigh of contentment, he began to doze. The hot afternoon passed quietly until a loud rifle report startled the entire company awake. Both men leaped to their feet, knives drawn. Then, staring in disbelief, Daniel pointed to the ruined camp. The entire area was strewn with equipment. Something with total abandonment had amused itself for a long time. Everything in both men‟s packs had been pulled out, carefully examined and thrown aside. The packet of coffee was broken open, the beans gnawed then tossed into the trees. The packet of sugar was completely devoured. The half-cooked venison roast was pulled from the overturned pot, nibbled, then discarded. Shot was scattered all over the camp. Powder sat in little hills in a half-dozen places where the monkey had poured it out. Monlutha‟s beaded necklace had been untied from his neck. Bead after bead was tossed on the ground until it looked like the Kentucky soil was sprouting beads. The monkey had gnawed lose the fasteners on the men‟s shot pouches and they were now sitting side by side on top of a rock. The buttons on Daniel‟s vest were likewise gnawed loose, examined and dropped beside the bush where it hung. The knots on the men‟s shot pouches and powder horns had been untied, as had Daniel‟s bootlaces. Then the water bags had attracted the monkey‟s attention. He twisted the wooden corks until he got them loose. Delightedly he poured the water all over Mingo‟s blanket. The water bags must have given the little simian another idea. Evidence of a quick swim was betrayed by the wet rocks around the pool. Finally, the beast examined Daniel‟s rifle propped against the rocks. In his thoroughness the monkey pulled the hammer back, then investigated the trigger. The explosion scared the animal so much that it was now perched high atop Mingo‟s sore head, having climbed the man‟s lean body like a tree. From his safe perch Caesar Two screeched and scolded in alarm, the outburst uncomfortably loud in the Cherokee‟s ears. Mingo reached for the monkey, but the startled animal was in no mood to be touched. He snarled and raked his sharp nails across Mingo‟s hand. The unexpected assault startled the Indian and he tipped his head forward to dislodge the monkey. But the nimble monkey simply followed the motion and continued to sit, now on the back of Mingo‟s head. It was then Caesar Two was once again distracted by the feather holder woven into Mingo‟s hair. Playfully he reached for the ornament and tore it loose. A handful of long black hair came with it, along with Mingo‟s shout as he felt the hair pulled out by the roots. “Monlutha! Come and get this monkey off my back!” Mingo shouted. Monlutha jumped to do Mingo‟s bidding, but when the boy touched the monkey he growled again and snapped at Monlutha. Daniel strode to Mingo‟s side, stripping his vest from the shrub as he walked. He stumbled and nearly fell as he tripped over his dragging bootlaces. Mumbling under his breath, he threw the garment over the monkey and firmly grasped the little animal. “I‟ve got him Mingo. You can stand up,” Daniel directed. Tentatively touching his bleeding scalp, Mingo stood. He glared at the monkey lying quietly in Daniel‟s hands, his feathers and holder held in the long simian hands. His temper gone, Mingo snatched the ornament from the monkey and thrust it into his belt. Strands of long black hair fluttered in the breeze. Muttering to himself, he quickly stuffed everything back into his pack. Monlutha quietly picked up his beads. Israel gathered the bullets. Daniel tied the thong of his shot pouch around the material covering the monkey‟s head and propped the creature against a tree. Then, after retying his laces, he carefully scooped as much powder as possible into the two powder horns. Night began to fall before the camp was tidied to everyone‟s satisfaction. Mingo brewed coffee from the beans Monlutha and Israel retrieved. He sat waiting for it to boil, pressing a wad of wet moss to his bloody scalp. Daniel kindled a fire three feet from the first doused fire and tested the mangled venison roast for doneness. As the moon began to rise in the east everyone scooted close to the fire for supper. “We‟d better untie Caesar Two, Daniel,” Mingo murmured. “Though I for one would like to see him tied up permanently, it isn‟t humane.” His eyes twinkling at his longtime friend, Daniel retrieved the monkey. He sat Caesar Two beside his favorite person and untied the hood. Chattering softly, Caesar climbed into Mingo‟s lap. There he sat contentedly fiddling with the fringe on Mingo‟s vest. When he thought no one was looking, the Cherokee tore loose a bit of venison and handed it to his problem child. Daniel laughed in amusement. Soon all four were chuckling at the antics of their pet. “You know, Daniel, he did a thorough job of investigating. He deserves credit for his single-mindedness,” Mingo observed. “I‟ve known me a toddler or two who behaved just like him,” Daniel said. He fondly looked over at his son. Just then Caesar Two let out a screech that brought all four people to instant alertness. Daniel snatched his rifle and pointed it in the direction the monkey was staring. Moments later they could make out an obvious human form pulling a saddle horse behind. “Hello the camp,” a cheery voice called. “Can I come in?” Daniel lowered his rifle as he replied, “Sure. But come slowly. We‟ve got a guard monkey that doesn‟t take easily to strangers.” The stranger laughed boisterously. The sound seemed to inspire Caesar Two. Bounding toward the approaching man, the monkey leaped up the man‟s leg, climbed up his chest and settled on his left shoulder. There, chattering and grimacing, Caesar sat beaming. The man lifted his hand to pet the monkey‟s furry back. “Hello Peabody. Finally found you, eh?” Chapter 5 The pot-bellied stranger licked his fingers. Caesar Two, now known as Peabody, sat on the man‟s lap chewing his own bit of venison. Mingo sat leaning back against a towering oak, listening to the fantastic tale being spun by Remus Baine. Israel and Monlutha sat on either side of their guest. Daniel sat beside his son. “So, gentlemen, boys, that‟s how Peabody came to be lost,” former seaman Baine concluded. “You mean somebody stole him?” Israel questioned in disbelief. “I do indeed, my little friend. Kept him in a cramped cage. Sold him for a pittance. Fed him only bits of leftover scraps. It‟s no wonder he escaped as soon as he could. I wish he hadn‟t run quite so far, though.” Remus stroked the monkey‟s back gently. The little animal grinned from ear to ear. “Mr. Baine, why did you name him Peabody?” Israel probed. Taking a chance, he reached out to pet the monkey‟s back. As he had consistently done, Peabody growled and bared his teeth menacingly. Israel snatched his hand back into his lap. He sighed heavily in defeat. Beside him the English seaman patted his back. “Don‟t take it so hard, boy. You look a good deal like the cabin boy that lured Peabody into his recent captivity. Your pa looks like the trader that bought him and carted him to Salem. He remembers. Monkeys have a long memory, better than some people.” “But I want to hold him!” Israel burst out. His father reached out to check his son‟s misbehavior. Seaman Baine waved his hand to stop him. Carefully he lifted the monkey into his arms. “Make a lap, boy. You got to sit real quiet. Understand?” the seaman asked. Israel eagerly nodded his head. He uncrossed his legs and stretched them side by side. Then he held his hands in readiness to accept the furry morsel. Slowly, talking calmly to Peabody, Seaman Baine placed the monkey in Israel‟s lap. “Now, talk to him real quiet,” the man directed. All eyes were riveted on the blonde boy and red-brown monkey. Israel barely breathed. Very slowly he began to run his hand down the animal‟s back. Peabody sat quietly for several seconds. Then Israel let loose a loud shout and the monkey scrambled off the boy‟s lap. “He peed on me!” Israel screamed in outrage. Stifling laughter, the three adults tried to keep their faces properly sober. Seaman Baine scooped the monkey onto his shoulder. “Now you got your question answered, boy. This here monkey pees on anybody he don‟t like. Always has. That‟s why I named him Peabody.” Mingo got to his feet and pushed his way rapidly into the forest. The people at the campfire could clearly hear his choking attempt to prevent a laugh. He lost the battle as peal after peal echoed through the trees. Seconds later everyone except Israel was laughing. The boy was growing more and more furious. “Stop it!” he shouted to his companions. “It ain‟t funny!” “Yes it is, son. C‟mon, let‟s get you cleaned up,” Daniel gasped. Taking Israel by the arm he pulled the fuming boy to the spring. There, using his tin cup, he poured cupful after cupful over Israel‟s fouled legs. Peabody sat on Remus‟ lap, obviously pleased with himself. Monlutha crept close. Softly he began to scold the little monkey in Cherokee. Peabody tilted his head up to the Indian boy as though listening to the chastisement. Then, contritely, he climbed into Monlutha‟s lap. He snuggled into the crook of the boy‟s arm, closed his eyes and fell asleep. Mingo returned as Daniel brought Israel back to the campfire. “I‟m sorry I laughed, Israel. But you certainly got your question answered as definitively as anyone I‟ve ever seen.” His deep voice was still laced with unexploded laughter. Israel heard it and lifted his chin defiantly. “Maybe so, Mingo, but it still ain‟t polite to laugh,” Israel grumped. Another round of laughter circled the campfire. Remus beckoned Israel to Monlutha‟s side. “Come here, boy. I think you can pet him now, if you still want to.” “Go on, Israel. Then you‟ll have a story to tell about how you petted a monkey,” his father encouraged. ”What kind is he, Mr. Baine?” Mingo asked as he watched Israel hesitatingly stroke Peabody‟s back. “He‟s a Capuchin. I‟ve had him since he was young. Bought him after my first voyage when I was only fourteen. He‟s kind of a bother, in a way, but he‟s a lot of company too when the voyage gets tiresome.” Remus Baine‟s expression grew distant. “Are you goin‟ back to the sea,” Daniel asked politely. “Maybe. I ain‟t decided yet. I miss it, but I ain‟t no youngster. Maybe it‟s time to settle down, me an‟ Peabody.” “Where?” Daniel investigated. “Here in Kentucky?” “Noooooo. I‟ve got to be where there‟s diversions, Mr. Boone. Somewhere there‟s lots of people. I‟ve been alone nearly all my life. I‟m thinkin‟ I‟d like a wife and some kids, if I can find somebody to put up with me,” Remus chuckled. “What if Peabody don‟t like your wife? Will he pee on her?” Israel asked innocently. The sleeping monkey was allowing the boy‟s caresses, and Israel was feeling forgiving. “Israel!” Daniel corrected. “It‟s not polite to question people like that. It‟s rude.” Daniel turned to Remus Baine. “My wife Rebecca has told me for years that my boy‟s too bold. I reckon she‟s right. Please excuse him.” “No offense, Mr. Boone. How‟s a boy goin‟ to find out about the world if he don‟t ask?” The seaman looked fondly at the two boys petting the limp monkey. “Maybe the boy‟s got a point. How would you like to…” “No!” Daniel interjected as rudely as Israel would have done. Mingo‟s eyes twinkled in the firelight as he smothered a guffaw. Remus‟ eyebrows lifted as his eyes widened. “It was just a thought, Mr. Boone. The boys seem taken with Peabody, and he‟s real fond of the Indian.” Now it was Mingo‟s turn to throw up his hands in refusal. “Thank you, no, Mr. Baine. I don‟t think my aunt or uncle would welcome such a „gift‟ either.” “No, no. I mean for your boy,” the seaman explained. “Monlutha is my cousin, Mr. Baine,” Mingo replied. “I have no children. Or siblings,” he added, quickly stopping any more offers for distant family members. “Well, maybe that‟s best,” Remus concluded. “We‟ve been together so long, might be he‟d die without me.” The man cleared his throat. “Might be I‟d die without him,” he admitted softly. “You‟re welcome to spend the night here with us,” Daniel offered. “We‟ve had a successful hunt and are headin‟ home tomorrow. Stay and share our breakfast.” “Thank you, I think I will. I‟ll just spread my blanket over near my horse. Goodnight all.” Remus stood up and stretched. Peabody woke and did likewise, to the delight of both boys. The man held out his left arm. Quick as a flash the monkey climbed to his preferred perch. Soon they were hidden by the shadowy trees. “Pa, he feels real soft,” Israel said. “Couldn‟t I please…..” “No! You saw what he did to this camp. I know he didn‟t do it mean, but son, he‟d always be doin‟ something like that. I don‟t have the patience for it, and neither does your ma. You don‟t want to have to spend part of every day fixin‟ what he‟s torn up, now do you?” Daniel gazed down expectantly at his small son. “No, sir,” Israel admitted. “But he‟s sure a wonder.” “That he is,” Mingo interjected. “Now you‟ve got quite a story to tell your friends in Boonesborough. And Monlutha has quite a story to tell in Chota. You two boys have had a very interesting two days. This hunt has been much more than we bargained for.” Monlutha looked up from spreading his blanket. “It has been a learning experience just as you promised,” he smiled. “For all of us,” Daniel amended. The fire burned low as the sounds of sleep drifted through the camp. Mingo laid thinking about teaching Monlutha to read. He was the last to sink into slumber. Hours later, he opened his eyes to the full summer moon. Something was nestled against his right side. Slowly he lifted his left hand and brought it down gently on soft brown fur. In his sleep the little monkey squeaked lightly. The man shifted slightly to ease the tender spot on the back of his head. Thick loose hair brushed his cheeks. Peabody must have unbraided his hair while he slept. Swift aggravation coursed through his heart. It was quickly replaced by amusement. Then, smiling at the memory of his own interactions with the little beast, he floated back to sleep on the rays of the moon.
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