Chapter 1

Will Gage first saw Spring Bird, a full-blooded Cherokee girl, at the funeral of his friend, Billy Stroud. Billy had been robbed and killed doing the same job as Will - hauling freight from the ferry landing across from Cincinnati to Louisville. The long haul was necessary because of the rapids and falls upstream on the Ohio River preventing cargo boats from navigating the river to Louisville.

During Billy's funeral, Will did a lot of thinking about the dangerous job he has been doing, and had saved enough money to buy a small piece of land, build a cabin, and settle down - maybe even marry. That thought led him to take another look at the Indian girl sitting near him. She was exotic looking - beautiful - with coal-black hair and dark eyes. Her high cheek bones accented her fair skin and pretty button nose.

After the funeral, he spoke with the preacher, Reverend Jones, and inquired about the Indian girl. He was told she had been brought to him and his wife after a mail-rider found her roaming aimlessly on the road. She had been separated from her family and tribe during a spring migration three years before. They took her in and raised and educated her, but she still spoke only broken English. Will asked for and was granted permission to call on her the following Sunday. Will quit his job at the freight company.

Will had been an infrequent visitor in the past, but soon became a regular visitor every Sunday. Sometimes he went on Wednesdays, also. Sundays after church they would take buggy rides, and after a few weeks had passed, Will and Spring Bird rode out to the farm that Will had purchased and saw the one-room cabin he had started to build. When she saw the work he had done, she exclaimed, "Me help build." Will kissed her and knew then that he loved her and wanted her to be his wife. She did help him and, working together, the cabin was finished before winter.

Reverend Jones married them in a quiet ceremony. Soon they were settled in and sleeping on a bear skin rug in front of the fire. Will, 35, and Spring Bird, 17 years of age, were now man and wife. The wedding night was one of "groping" each other clumsily before they managed to complete the act and consummate the marriage. Spring Bird was a virgin, but Will had visited a whore house - getting his ashes hauled, as the men called it -and had no idea it could be the pleasure he experienced that evening. Usually it was a quick shoot and then go. They called it "relief" or "horny" - not love. It wasn't long before Will and Spring Bird both knew what real love was. Once this passion

became real to them both, they made love many times during the night and the next morning. Sleeping became a second choice.

Over the next few years their love for each other never waned. Will had found the perfect wife and lover. Those times of the month she was not able to accommodate him properly, she would find other body orifices to accept his stiff love. Then later, during the late months of her pregnancies, she would perform oral sex on him so as not to harm the baby in her belly and still not render her useless to the man she loved.

In five years, their love had produced three healthy children, all delivered by a midwife named Nellie Bell, a good friend and their closest neighbor. Nellie Bell lived about two hundred yards from Will and Spring Bird on a farm. Their farms were separated by a dense stand of pine trees.

Alf Bell, Nellie's husband, was a co-worker of Will's at the lumber company where they both worked as woodcutters, cutting and stacking cord wood to feed the boilers of the growing traffic of steam boats hauling freight and passengers from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati.

First born to Will and Spring Bird was James in 1845, followed by Mary in 1847, and then Jacob (called Jake) in 1850. Their neighbors, the Bells, were called Uncle Alf and Aunt Nellie because they were about the only adults - other than Ma and Pa - that they saw routinely.

After Mary was born, Will added another small room to the cabin. His wife worked a little bit but was very busy all day caring for the children, taking care of the garden, as well as cooking, cleaning and laundry. Alf and Nellie helped him when they could. Sometimes Nellie would come to just help tend the children. Alf and Nellie had no children of their own and just seemed to enjoy being around the children.


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