A Trail West

Book II: A New Beginning

by: Richard

This is a story that involves sex between males. If such a story is offensive, or illegal for you to read where you live, then do not continue, go and surf elsewhere.

This is a work of fiction and in no way draws on the lives of any specific person or persons. If there is any similarity to any real persons or events it is entirely coincidental. Some license has been taken with places as well.

The work is copy righted (c) by the author and may not be reproduced in any form without the specific written permission of the author. It is assigned to the Nifty Archives under the terms of their submission agreement but it may not be copied or archived on any other site without the written permission of the author.

Thanks to Rob (in Atlanta) a note: "... In chapter 2, which is set in 1833, it mentions Atlanta. Atlanta did not exist, yet. It might have existed as a little railroad village called Terminus. In the 1840s, as it began to grow due to the railroads, it was named Marthasville. Later in the 1850s, it was renamed Atlanta. It wasn't much of a town until the 1850s. Even during the Civil War, it was smaller than Savannah."

I want to thank all of you who have written to me about the story. Your comments are greatly appreciated. I hope that I haven't missed writing back to any of you. Here is the next part and chapter of this historical story.

Chapter 4

Ty hummed to himself as he strolled lazily along the dirt path which led to the cabin he now called home. His shirt, such as it was, was sweat drenched and dusty and stuck to his body giving him the feeling that he'd just climbed out of the creek. His stooped frame belied his height which, if he stood up straight was over six foot. Age and arthritis had caused him to stand and walk bent over increasingly more with each year that passed. He was by all accounts still a handsome man. He'd lived fifty or so years, nearly all of them as a slave on the Thompson Plantation located outside Augusta Georgia........

In the winter of 1838, Tyrone Thompson, had been sold to Randolph P. Jones, and thereby became, Tyrone Thompson Jones. Ty, as he was called, moved north to Charlotte North Carolina and had become the personal manservant to Mister Jones. Randolph, Randy to all his friends, was an old man, nearly seventy when he acquired Ty. He was a kindly gentleman and unmarried then as his wife had died twenty years before. No children, and no kinfolk close enough to be called kin, he had retired from his plantation to live in town in a large brick house.

It was to that house that Randy brought Ty that winter. His former manservant had died before Christmas. With disdain for the practice of owning slaves, he'd freed his own shortly after he acquired them. Just before he sold most of his land he had given them all a sum of money and sent them on their way, if they wanted to leave. About half left, the rest remained and stayed on to work for the new owner, but as free men. A friend of his had told him of Tyrone, a handsome, well-mannered slave, trained in serving a gentleman from the age of fourteen. Randy traveled to Augusta had have a look.

James Thompson was reluctant at first, but having taken a liking to a younger slave he was anxious to have as his personal servant, finally agreed to sell the aging Tyrone to Randy. Randy was delighted with Tyrone, and as soon as they arrived in Charlotte set up the papers to make him a free man and put him on a salary.

For two years Ty worked for Randy, and would have been happy to stay with him the rest of his life. But in the spring of 1840, two years after he'd been freed, Randy died in his sleep one night.

The fuss that the newspapers made over the death of that old man was not to believed. Ty, who could read a little, found out from the newspapers that not only was he a free man, which he already knew, but also that the will which Randolph Jones left, gave almost all that he had to him!

Mister Jones' lawyer called all the servants, there were three besides Ty, to a meeting in the parlor the day of the funeral. The short plump man dressed appropriately in a black suit, sat at the small table in the library. He looked up as the three Black women, and Ty came into the room. They all stood a respectful distance away in front of him.

"I have called you all together," he began, "to read to you the will of the Late Randolph Jones."

He paused, cleared his throat, and began, "Being of sound mind and body, I Randolph Patrick Jones, resident of the City of Charlotte, the State of North Carolina, do declare this to be my last will and testement....." The document went on and on before coming to the part about the disposition of the estate. "To my faithful cook, Martha Melvin Jones, to my housekeepers, Cindy and Ruth Ann Cater Jones, I leave the sum of one thousand dollars each and the contents of the rooms in which they reside.

"To my faithful and devoted manservant, Tyrone Thompson Jones, I leave all else that I may own and possess, be it money or land or possessions. And to see that he has the benefit of it all, I appoint the honorable Simon Templeton executor and guardian for the estate.

"Martha, Cindy, and Ruth Ann shall have one month free lodging in the house until they find other quarters, or are hired by Tyrone to stay on and serve him, if he chooses.

"Let it be known, and so let it be done." Simon looked up and took off his spectacles. "Well," he said, "There it is. You're all very rich, especially you Tyrone. Mister Jones was a kind and generous man, may he rest in peace.

"I'll be getting in touch with the bank to see to the transfer of the moneys tomorrow. You'll all have to go down to sign the papers, but they'll send for you when they're ready for you.

"I'll be getting back to you, Tyrone, in a day or so, about the other details." He stood up and folded the papers putting them in his case, and left. Ty showed him out.

The other just stood in the parlor and waited for Ty to return. After letting Simon out by the front door, he returned to the parlor.

"I suppose you all understood what the man said," Ty said. He was still in a state of shock himself. The women just stood and looked at him. They all had worked for Randy longer than Ty had. But there was no feeling of jealousy over the disposition, just disbelief. The sum of money that they had received was many years wages for women, and more for Black women. They were shocked by the sudden death of their employer, and although he was an old man, they had expected that he would live on for many years.

The two sisters wept, holding each other in their arms. Martha, who was older dabbed at her eyes with the hem of her apron.

"I don't know what will happen next," Ty said. "Let's just wait and see. There isn't much to do now, so we'll just do what we need to."

Ty climbed the stairs the Randy's bedroom. He stood looking at the freshly made fourposter. The dark rosewood gleamed with the highly polished waxed shine put there by the hands of his servants. The room had been cleaned and re-cleaned in the days since he died.

He stood with his hands hanging loosely beside his body looking at the empty bed. The man had become a friend to him more than a master. His eyes misted as he recalled the first day that he saw him climbing down from the coach, dressed in heavy rain gear looking for all the world like a brown bear. His laughing eyes fairly sparkled as Tyrone had helped him off with the fur coat which had kept him warm on the long trip. Ty had not known that he would be going away with him the next day, nor could he have guessed what was to follow.

He walked slowly back down the back stairs to his own room just off the living-room. There he sat down on his bed and stared straight ahead....

In the year that followed many things happened. Simon Templeton was a scoundrel, and had persuaded Ty to sell the house and almost all the remaining land that Randy owned. Simon had friends who bought it all at a decent price, but after Simon took his executor's fees and administrative costs from every transaction, the final amount of money that Ty received was barely more than the other servants received.

Disillusioned and alone Ty packed up his few personal possessions and moved off into the hills to the west of Asheville where he now lived alone on the one piece of land that Randy had told him he loved the most, and that he was never going to part with. Templeton had been furious with Ty for not selling it, but Ty had been firm.

No one had bothered him. He'd never given any serious thought to marrying, not since the woman he had thought about living with was married to another slave. He was disinclined to choose another, even though his mother had coaxed him for several years. After she died of the fever the year the British burned Washington, he'd remained content to leave the younger women alone. He'd been about past the marrying age anyway, so his mother'd often said, and since he'd always fancied himself as a loner he left well enough alone.

When he felt the need, as he did every now and again, he'd find himself a pretty young boy from among the young boys who were so inclined. The three women he had come to know since he was freed worked for Randy, and didn't interest him. Since he'd moved off by himself, he'd had no contact with any of them. He'd gotten used to doing without, and reckoned he could continue doing without......

He came to the stream which crossed his trail and he judged he could use a bath. He walked around the bend in the trail so he wouldn't be seen should anyone happen along the trail. He'd started doing that right after he'd moved there. One day when he was taking a bath in plain sight of the trail, a party of Whites who'd been going through the territory had happened along while he was naked. One of the men took a shot at him to scare him. Didn't come close, but scared him half to death. He vowed to never let that happen to him again.

Ty stripped off his aging clothes and carefully washed them in the stream getting the dust and dirt out as best he could just rubbing them between his hands. Then he set them across a bush to dry in the hot, late afternoon summer sun. He walked back up stream a little further where there was a deeper spot in the path which had been cut in the rich reddish earth by the rushing waters. A rock out-cropping had dammed the water on its way down the slope and it carved out a bowl-shaped spot in the streambed. This was the spot he always choose to bathe since he discovered it the first year had lived in the mountains.

He slipped down into the cool water and washed the grime and dirt from his muscular body with a piece of cloth he carried to wipe his brow with when he was working. The cool water felt good after the long day of working at the mill down at the village of Kings Mountain, five miles down stream, just west of Asheville. When they were busy Johnson, the mill manager was glad to have an extra strong Black to wrestle with the logs as they prepared the timber for market. He earned a few cents a day, enough to buy salt and sugar occasionally, and once in a while some coffee and flour. The money he managed to finally receive from the estate, he left in the bank. Only occasionally did he resort to taking some. He wasn't at all sure how much of it there was left.

When he finished washing himself, and lazed about in the water humming outloud the strains of an old song his mother used to sing to him when he was a child. He had long since forgotten the words, but the melody had stayed with him. Finally, tired of the water, he climbed up on the bank and found a grassy spot and lay down in the sun to dry.

His eyes closed against the bright sun which streamed down on him through the branches of the elder and birch trees which grew along the banks. He must have dozed off because he didn't hear the approaching young man who rode up stream carrying a rifle slung across his arm.

When he did hear the noise of the breaking of a stick, he opened his eyes and sat up. There he was, sitting naked in the grass staring up into the barrel of a rifle. He could have died of fright alone.

"What are doing you here?" asked the young man still pointing the rifle at him.

"Nothin'," Ty answered shaking a bit, then remembering his upbringing added, "Sir."

"I can see that," the young man said, "What I mean, is what are you doing in these parts?"

"I lives here 'bouts, Sir," Ty answered.

"Oh," the man answered. He lowered the rifle, cradling it carefully across his arm as he'd been taught.

Ty had covered himself as best he could with the scrap of cloth which he used in bathing and which had lain drying beside him in the sun. Now that the rifle was no longer pointing at him and he had time to study the face of its owner, he saw that the man was tall and slim, fair of feature and dressed well enough. Ty judged him to be twenty-two years old.

Ty continued to call him Sir when he asked, "You live here 'bouts, Sir?"

"Naw, just passin' through," he answered, "My name's Byron J. Harper, what's yours?"

"I'm Ty," Ty started and then answered, "My name's Tyrone Thompson Jones. Pleased to meet you, Mister Harper." He stood up cautiously and extended his free right hand to the young man, while he held the piece of cloth judiciously covering himself.

Byron took the outstretched hand and shook it vigorously, "Mighty pleased to make your acquaintance, Mister Jones."

Ty smiled slightly as he considered how Byron would have fared in town if he'd been seen shaking hands with a Black man.

"Those your clothes back there?" Byron asked.

"Yeah," Ty said remembering them, "Sure hope they're still there."

"They are," Byron said, then asked, "Mind if I take a swim in the stream? Sure does look mighty cool."

"Be my guest," Ty responded. Imagine, he thought, A White man asking if he can swim in the stream? He watched as Byron laid down his rifle and began taking off his clothes. Ty judged him to be just over six foot tall and one hundred fifty pounds. Good and strong too, Ty thought. As Byron took off his underwear, Ty became embarrassed by his thoughts and turned away.

"Don't be shy," Byron said seeing him look away, "I saw you naked, why shouldn't you see me."

"If you don't mind, I'll get my clothes so no body gits 'em," Ty said and headed off down the stream to get his shirt and pants. For a reason he couldn't justify, even to himself, when he returned, he was just carrying them on his arm.

Ty was surprised to see Byron lying on the grass where he had been earlier. His body still glistened with droplets of water. He had golden reddish colored hair which curled about his face. His skin was deeply tan, especially so above the waist, but even his legs and groin area were tanned. Ty wondered about this. Most White men he'd known were white all over, and if they were tan at all, it was above the waist.

"Sure is nice to be naked in the sun," Byron said, more to himself than to Ty. Byron shaded his eyes and looked up at Ty, "Sit a spell, if ya got the time."

"I guess I could stay a while more," Ty said sitting down beside the man.

"What did ya mean, Byron," Ty asked.

"'Bout what?"

"'Bout being glad to be naked," Ty said curiously.

"Oh," Byron said, "Nothing. I guess I just meant it's shame to be all dressed when it's so hot. I mean, just because there's someone else around."

"Oh," Ty said as he lay back in the sun, closing his eyes against the strong glare. For a long time neither of them spoke.

"Yur family live around here?" Ty asked.

"Naw," Byron said. "I've no family any more. Mama died nearly fifteen years ago, never knew my father, though I saw pictures of him."

"Oh," Ty said, "Mighty sorry to hear 'bout that." Ty still lay with his eyes closed. "No other kinfolk?"

"Just aunts, and they live in Charlotte." Byron sat up and looked at Ty's body, still lean and muscular in spite of his age. He studied it closely. He was excited by the sight he saw. It had been a long time since he'd seen a Black man naked like that, not since he'd left Harper's Valley that day years ago, What was it now? Three years ago, he thought to himself, Seems longer.

Ty, sensing the gaze, and realizing the lull in the conversation, asked, "So what's you doing up this way?"

"Uhhh?" Byron paused, not really hearing the question.

"I asked, what's you doing in these parts?" Ty repeated, still with his eyes closed.

"Oh," Byron said, "I'm thinking of heading out West." Seeing that Ty still had his eyes closed, Byron continued to gaze at the body before him. His body was beginning to respond to what he was thinking. He was shocked at first, and embarrassed. He looked away.

Ty, who'd opened his eyes just a bit at the last statement, had seen Byron looking at him with that certain look. When Byron looked away he took the opportunity of looking at him in return, and quickly closed his eyes again as Byron started to turn back.

Seeing Byron's semi-hard penis had started his own to responding, and Ty didn't want to let on that he'd seen anything, so he just continued to lie there. His heartbeat quicken as he realized that Byron must have noticed what was happening. And as the thought of it rushed through his mind, the pulsing in his long black cock began to extend it even further.

Byron's eyes were glued to the sight. It grew and grew! His own cock was now fully hard and standing up between his legs and reached half way to his knees, which he had raised now in front of him, so as to try and hide the result of his staring.

"Gosh!" he sighed aloud without intending to, and thinking to himself, This man is big, bigger than I am.

Ty realized what had evoked the response and said softly, "It gets bigger," And then added, a little embarrassed, "But not much." He didn't want to sound as if he was bragging. Most men he knew, at least the Black ones he knew about, liked to brag about how big they were. He never did, but he heard the talk and he reckoned his measured up, because he never heard anyone saying anything to the contrary. The bucks he'd had sex with were mostly young, and none of them came close to being as big as he was.

Byron was embarrassed, and quickly said, "I'm awful sorry, Mister Jones, I didn't mean anything by starin'."

"That's all right, Byron," he paused, "I guess everyone's curious about other fellows that way."

"It's just that it's been so long since I," Byron said shyly, daring not to continue what he was going to say, and trying not to look, but couldn't help himself. Finally in desperation over the situation he had gotten himself into, he stood up and went to get his clothes, his cock bouncing before him like a flag pole in a parade.

Ty sat up suddenly and seeing Byron bending over to pick up his clothes was filled with a sudden urge, one which he hadn't felt in a long time. He was ashamed of what he was thinking and looked away.

"Goin' somewhere?" Ty asked looking back as Byron pulled on his trousers.

"Yeah, I guess I'd better find somewhere to camp for the night 'afore it gets dark." Byron didn't dare to look at Ty.

"If'n you got a mind to, you kin stay at my place for a spell," Ty said, "If you don't mind stayin' with a Nigger man."

"That's mighty kind of you, Mister Jones," Byron said looking startled at the thought of it, and added, "I couldn't impose on you like that."

"Wouldn't be imposing. I always got 'nough to share, and I'd enjoy the company," Ty said.

"You sure I wouldn't be imposing?" Byron asked. He didn't have the slightest inhibition about staying with a Black man, but dared not tell him why.

"I'm sure," Ty said, he brushed his hand roughly against his cock, forcing it to retreat a bit. He got up and put on his clothes too, putting the thoughts he'd had earlier out of his mind. When they were both fully dressed, he started back for the trail. Byron picked up his rifle and followed him, leading his horse, looking for all the world as if he just captured a prisoner and was taking him off to jail.

Ty stopped and waited for him to catch up, he was too uncomfortable with the rifle at his back, even if Byron was friendly. After all, he could stumble and it could go off accidentally. Byron strode along beside him silently.

The trees which grew along the trail shaded it from the sun, and it began to be cooler at they walked further up on the slope. They walked nearly half an hour, with neither of them saying a word. Finally they reached Ty's modest cabin. Byron stood beside Ty looking at it as they trail they'd been following widened out into a clearing.

For the first time that he could remember, Ty wished that it was nicer than it was. He couldn't figure out why it was that he felt that way. He felt silly and derided himself for his thought. His mother used to say that he was vain, she'd always told him he was. Now he knew it was true.

There it stood, his handiwork. It wasn't much more than a lean-to shed. Its roof sloped from front to back. And it had but one window. The door sagged on it hinges. The floor was dirt long since packed hard as rock. The rough fireplace at the back was of stones he'd managed to stack together with mud to hold them in place.

"That's a fine looking place you got there, Mister Jones," Byron said.

"It ain't much, but it's mine," Ty said, then added, "And don't be calling me Mister Jones, my name's Ty. Been called that all my life."

Outside the cabin was a bench. Sleeping on it now was a great yellow and white tomcat. It had strayed in one day and just stayed on when Ty began feeding it.

"That there," Ty pointed, "is Tom. A lazy cat if there ever was one."

Byron grinned and poked a finger at the cat, which evoked a hiss and a low growl from the cat.

"He ain't too friendly," Byron laughed.

"Naw, he ain't. We don't git many visitors up here, so he ain't used other folks." Ty answered, then whisper to the cat, and leaned over to pet him, "You be good now, he's a friend." The cat stretched out and purred, letting Ty scratch his stomach.

"You can see he's lazy too." Ty laughed.

Ty's tools hung on pegs outside on the wall next to the door. Wild flowers grew in patches on either side of the path leading to the door. Small stones circled the flowers and also lined the path when it came out of the woods. The one window had glass in it, two panes standing side by side in the rough frame he'd been able to fashion out of split birch.

"Come inside, Byron," Ty said. "Yur horse won't go far, I don't reckon'." He eased the door open and let it stay open. He always left it open when he was there. He got more light that way, and the air had a chance to move more too.

Inside was nearly as rough looking as the outside. There were only the barest essentials of furniture. A long table was pushed up against the wall at one end of the room, with a bench next to it. At the other end was a bed. It was covered with an aging comforter made of pieces of colored cloth. Under the comforter was a blanket which lay on top of the layer of dried grass which served as a cushion against the hard bottom of the bed.

In the the fireplace hung a black iron cooking pot. In it Ty cooked whatever it was he cooked. A shelf next to the fireplace held the rest of his utensils, two long handled wooden spoons, three enameled cups and plates, a crockery bowl and a glass jar which now held the last of the white beans which he grown in his garden last year.

On the table were several assorted metal and glass containers which held his other cooking supplies, sugar, salt, flour, meal, and coffee when he had some.

The fireplace was cold now, had been for several days, since he cooked his last meal. He found that if he put enough salt in the food he cooked, it would keep several days without spoiling, as long as he kept the pot covered, and left it hanging in the draft of the fireplace.

He went over and got the pot from the fireplace. It was now empty of food, and it was time to scrub it out and fix something new.

"Have yurself a seat, Byron. I got to git some water and stuff," Ty said heading for the door.

"Thank you kindly, M...," Byron started, "Uhhh, Ty."

Ty smiled as he watched Byron lean his rifle against the wall and took a seat on the bench by the table.

Ty turned and hurried out of the cabin and walked around the back and followed the path to the stream which was only a short walk through the woods. He would have liked to have been closer to the water, but the ground had not been level enough for that, and the large rocks and trees too much for him to move. The path was slightly downhill from his cabin. To the left of the end of the path was downstream, and that was where he washed his pots and dishes, using the fine sand as an abrasive to clean them.

He knelt down at the edge of the stream and dipped the pot into the water taking in just a little. The cover he just laid in the water. Scooping up a handful of sand began rubbing it around inside the pot. The many years of seasoning on the pot kept food from sticking to its surface and just a few seconds of rubbing lightly brought the pot smooth and clean. He dipped the pot into the water and rinsed it several times, finally filling it nearly full with fresh water. The cover he rubbed lightly and put back on top of the pot.

He rose from his kneeling position and headed back to the cabin. Byron was standing outside looking around with a boyish curiosity when Ty came around from behind the cabin.

"Anything I can do to help?" Byron asked when he saw Ty.

"You kin bring in some wood for the fire, if'n you like."

Byron looked about, "There's a stack 'round back," Ty said, then realizing that Byron might bring an armful added, "Just two big pieces, and a couple of smaller ones 'l be gist fine."

Byron hurried off to his task. Meanwhile Ty went inside and began preparations for his latest stew. He emptied nearly all of the water out into a bucket that stood on the table before hanging the pot with the balance of the water on the hook in the fireplace.

At the corner of the room near the end of the table was a large flat stone. He lifted it aside and revealed his stash of dried meats, lard, potatoes, and turnips. The earth was dry and cold under the rock, and food stayed fresh a long time unless it got very warm outside for a long time. He selected the items he needed and replaced the flat rock and went to the table with what he'd taken.

Byron returned with the wood Ty had requested. He went back outside and unsaddled his horse, and tethered it off to one side of the clearing where it couldn't get at the flowers, then went back inside and stood near the fireplace.

"Ya kin start it, if'n ya like," Ty said, "There's a flint 'n steel and some kindlin' there."

Byron bent down and proceeded to lay the fire. Everyone could do that and in less time than it would take to say how it's done. Soon a small flame began rising from the few pieces of wood shavings at the bottom of the neatly stacked fuel.

Ty looked up from what he was doing, and smiled as Byron knelt before the fireplace breathing life into the small flame.

"Ya kin let the kettle down to the lowest hook," Ty said. Byron obeyed and adjusting the pieces of wood to produce a hot steady blaze, he rose and stood back to admire his handiwork. It had been a long time since he'd set a fire. The servants took care of such things. But as a boy he'd watched with interest as his mama started the fire in the cabin.

Ty took a plate with the items he'd been working on, and dumped them into the pot.

"It'll be a while," Ty said, "We kin sit outside, if'n ya like."

Byron followed Ty outside and together they sat down on the bench and leaned back against the wall of the cabin. At first Tom growled as they took his place, but quickly returned and climbed back into Ty's lap, and let himself be petted, purring in response, all the while watching the stranger sitting near by. Already the sky was beginning to color as the sun disappeared below the trees. The brilliant reds and yellows splashed across the sky through the wisps of light clouds high above. The chirping of the birds which were beginning to gather for the night could be heard in the distance.

If one had been stand off at a distance and looking toward the cabin, it would have been a curious sight to see. But if one had ignored the difference in their races, it would have looked quite common to see two mountain men sitting enjoying the quiet of the early evening.

It was fully dark by the time that the two men finally sat together at the table inside eating by the light from the fire and a smoking, flickering flame from an ancient oil lamp on the wall behind the table.

The faire wasn't fancy, nor particularly choice, but it was a good as either had eaten in many days. The fragrance as it had been cooking had stimulated them both, and so by the time it was ready, they were ready for it. They ate heartily speaking little, instead concentrating on the food.

So strong was the urge to eat, that Ty had forgotten his habit of Giving Thanks before beginning. When they were finished, he bowed his head.

"We thank Thee kindly Lord for the blessing of this food which we have eaten, and for all the blessings You have given us. Keep us in Thy ways, and protect us on our journeys. Amen."

Byron was a little startled by this sudden prayer, but answered in a firm and sincere, "Amen!" His mama would have been proud. He was educated, handsome, well mannered and respectful.

Ty took down his pipe from the shelf behind the table.

It had been his father's pipe, so his mother told him. He never remember his father, not really. Although it seemed as if he recalled the tall handsome man who used to carry him on his shoulders about the room after dinner and laughed and tickled him as he snuggled in bed with the others before going to sleep at night. But he didn't really remember, it was just the stories his mother told him that he remembered. But it was as good as remembering, maybe better. The things she didn't tell him: of how his father would beat her when he got drunk, of how he was beaten by the Master for being drunk the next day, of how one day he was knifed by another slave for sleeping with the man?s wife, and how she watched him die on the ground outside their cabin. No, it was better that he didn't remember him.

He smoked his pipe only in the evening, and as was his custom, and when the weather permitted, only outside. He prepared the pipe and then lighted from a stick he held into the dying embers until it burst into flame. When he had gotten his pipe going, he blew out the flame and set the stick up along the floor next to the small pile of kindling.

Ty turned and walked outside and stood on the path looking up at the sky.

Byron, who had watched everything from his place on the bench by the table, now got up and walked outside and stood a little ways back from Ty.

He didn't know why, but he liked this man. The man was gentle and kind. He was nice looking, reminded him a bit of Charles, though older. The slight stoop in his stance gave him the appearance of an elderly gentleman from behind, standing on his plantation surveying his land.

Then widening his gaze, Byron saw all the Ty was seeing. The clearing with it winding path to the woods, the patches of flowers growing along side, the sky filled with a myriad of stars, a thin slice of moon in the East just above the trees. It was a peaceful sight, and the silence was only disturbed by the hoot of a distant owl and the rustle of a soft breeze through the birch trees which bounded the clearing.

He recalled the placed he'd built and of how he liked to stand look at at times like these. He often wondered what had become of it, and Charles, and all the others he'd left behind. He'd heard a man once, a month or so ago tell tales of the West, as he called it, where a man could stand and look across the land, and a far as one could see, there were soft waves of grass with cattle grazing. The only trees one saw were along the rivers and in the cities. Byron had listened for hours as the man talked of the cattle country, and of the horses, and the outlaws, and roundups, and stampedes, and the raids by bands of hostile Indians.

After that he'd decided that he was heading West. There was no one to stop him. No one had apparently come looking for him. It'd been three years now. All that he had was in a little pack strapped to the back of his horse, that and his rifle. The money he'd taken with him, had long since been used. He worked odd jobs when he could find them, stole when he had to, begged when he was too afraid to steal.

He wondered how long it would take to get there. He didn't really know where it was, except that it was in the West. The place he'd heard some about too was California, and it was there he wanted to go. Most recently he'd stayed in Charleston. After he'd determined where he was headed, he been traveling North and West. He went around Charlotte to avoid any chance that he'd be recognized. He'd followed the road coming out of town until it split into two, one turning South, and the other road westward. He turned and followed the west branch until he reached Asheville. Then he followed a trail into the hills west of Asheville until today when he ran into Ty.

Byron finally broke the silence.

"Ty," he asked, "You ever been out West?"

Ty was startled by the sound of a voice, a voice which wasn't supposed to be there.

"Oh," he said, still puffing on his pipe. "No I ain't. Here's as far as I got to."

"That's where I'm heading," Byron said.

"I reckon that's where you're going, then," Ty answered, he tried to recall who he felt the first time he was out on his own. He supposed that he was the same as Byron then.

"How long you think it'll take me to get there?"

"Don't know. Can't say since I ain't ever been there."

"A man I talked to back in Charleston said it was a long ways."

"Reckon it'll take you six maybe seven months then," Ty judged.

"Think so?" Byron asked.

"Yep, lessen' you plan on running that horse all the way." Ty smiled.

"I suppose," Byron mused, "Then it'll be next year 'afore I get there."

"If'n you travel all through the winter and the snow 'n cold."

"Gosh, I forgot about the snow." Byron whispered. "Guess I'll have to hole up someplace for the winter, when it gits cold and wait till spring."

"If'n I was you, I'd start out in the spring, then you could go the whole way before winter comes." Ty didn't know why he even thought about it, but it seemed like the right way to do it.

"Yeah, makes sense," Byron thought a moment and added, "And if I worked all winter, maybe I could get me some supplies."

"Would make the traveling a lot easier," Ty reaffirmed still puffing slowly on his pipe. He was enjoying the dreaming with Byron, sort of made it seem as if he were going too. What the kid was talking about sounded kind of exciting, if one was to think about it. He'd never thought about going anywhere once he come to this spot and got himself situated. He owned the land, so he guessed he could stay as long as he wanted.

Ty puffed a couple of times, and found his pipe was empty. He walked around the back of the cabin followed by Byron. A short distance down the path which led to the stream, but downstream from where he got the water was the spot he used for a toilet. Just a depression in the dirt which he carved out with his crude shovel. A small wooden scoop stood nearby.

Ty undid his trousers and began pissing out a thick stream into the trench. Byron did the same and continued long after Ty was finished. Ty tried not to watch but couldn't help himself. Just before Byron was finished, he turned and started back toward the yard.

"I guess it's time to get some sleep. Tomorrow's upon us soon enough. 'n it's bound to be hot again too."

Ty walked on to the cabin. He waited looking into the dying embers a moment and looked out at the boy standing in the light of the doorway. He wondered what might be going on in his mind.

Ty tapped out the ashes from his pipe and replaced in its holder on the wall. When he finished Byron had come inside and was standing in front of the fireplace with his hands folded behind his back. Ty went to the door and pulled it closed and slipped the latch into place for the night.

"Oh," Ty said, "There's tin can here near the door if'n ya have to pee during the night."

Byron turned and looked toward Ty and smiled. Ty went to the bed and looked at it. It was big enough for two, but he wondered if Byron was that broad minded. Well, he'd have to sleep on the floor if he wasn't.

"Yur welcome to share my bed, Byron, if'n you've a mind to," Ty said. "I only got the one heavy comforter, and it gits kinda cold on the floor."

Byron looked relieved somehow and smiled, "Any kind of bed's fine after sleeping on the ground these last few months," he said.

Just the warm glow from the fireplace lighted the room since Ty had blown out the lamp after dinner before they went outside. There was barely enough light coming from it now in which to see to move around, as the flames had long since died away. Ty walked to the bed and threw back the comforter. Then he took off his clothes, and hung them on a hook on the wall near the head of the bed. He climbed in and pulled up the comforter.

"You comin' or not?" he asked.

Byron smiled sheepishly and began undressing too. He hated sleeping with his clothes on too, but didn't know about sleeping with this man, he'd not slept with anyone since Charles. He found another hook on the wall next to the one Ty had used to hang up his things, and hung his shirt, pants and underwear there. He was aware that he was becoming aroused again, just thinking about Ty lying there naked under the comforter.

Byron didn't say anything and didn't look at Ty either, just eased himself under the covers and closed his eyes. Ty saw what Byron had only felt, and wondered about it. He tried not to think about it, and rolled over facing the wall and tried to go to sleep.

A snap of a log from the fireplace startled Byron and he jumped involuntarily. He listened to Ty's heavy breathing, and as the breathing slowed and became quite regular, he knew that Ty had gone to sleep. Byron rolled on his side facing the fireplace and relaxed, quickly falling asleep.

Outside a breeze rustled through the leaves and a mouse scurried unseen by the owl sitting in the tree overhead facing the wrong way. When the owl turned back toward where the mouse had been, he was gone. He was safe from harm for another night.

To be continued ---

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