A Trail West

Book II: A New Beginning

by: Richard

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 5

Ty woke first, being used to waking up early everyday and going to work. For a moment he was at a loss to explain the unfamiliar warmth he felt next to him. He'd turned during the night and was lying facing Byron's backside with his arm across the smooth light colored skin. He had his usual morning hard-on and was embarrassed when he realize it was pressed up against Byron's soft butt.

It apparently was causing Byron no discomfort, as he didn't move, even when Ty woke and found his position and his cock flexed just from the thought of where it was. As Ty moved back away from him a little and pulled his arm off from Byron's body, he heard him moan and felt him snuggle back against him.

From the light coming in the window Ty knew he had a few more minutes before he really had to get up so as not to be late for work, he decided to let the boy sleep awhile longer. It felt good to have someone close to him, even if it was another man, and even if he was White.

Byron moaned again and rolled onto his other side and was now facing Ty. He didn't open his eyes, and if he had he would have seen only Ty's peaceful face, with his eyes closed. Byron's hands move out away from his body when he rolled and one of them came to rest on Ty's thigh brushing his erection slightly. Ty sucked in his breath, holding it at the shock of what happened. It was not that he was upset or that he wouldn't have enjoyed the contact, but he couldn't believe it was happening. He tried not to move, but soon realized that he'd have to fairly soon in any case.

Ty edged himself slowly back away from Byron hoping not to wake him until he'd gotten out of bed at least. It was not to be, for just as Ty was climbing across Byron's side of the bed Byron's eyes opened. It was if he'd been shot, he pulled himself up sharply when he saw the body close to him, nearly throwing Ty on the floor.

"It's just me," Ty said trying to act nonchalant about it.

"Oh," Byron sighed, "I guess I forgot where I was for a moment." He rubbed his eyes and stretched. In the commotion the covers were pulled off from Byron exposing his raging morning hard-on.

"Looks like we're both in the same boat," Byron said climbing out of bed. Ty was unlatching the door and shoving it open as Byron came up behind him, forgetting for an instant about his erection, and bumped Ty on his butt with the end of it.

"Sorry," Byron said and backed up a way from him.

"That's okay," Ty said, "The way I woke up this morning, it a wonder mine wasn't buried inside yours.

"Really?" Byron said. It was more a statement than a question, and Ty didn't try to answer.

"I figure we'd better go outside now, since I doubt either one of us could hit the can like we are right now," Ty led the way to the trench and proceed to drench the soft earth below. Byron came along side and joined him. He watched curiously as the two mostly erect cocks spewed out the steaming hot streams of yellow liquid. He'd never seen anyone do it that way before, at least anyone so big.

Byron was about to do something he hadn't done in a long time, he started to reach out and touch Ty's cock. But before he could even move, Ty had backed away and started to walk back to the cabin. Byron guessed he'd have to wait until another time, maybe during the night sometime. He shook his own to get the last drops off and followed Ty.

Ty was pulling on his trousers when Byron reached the cabin, his cock already starting to subside. Ty was glad that he was dressed because even though his had dropped it was still swollen nearly full size. The trousers at least covered it up. He'd had the urge to take advantage of Byron before he went to work, to rid himself of the tension. He changed his mind though, and decided against it. Perhaps another time. It had been so long since he'd felt the urge to be with someone that he knew it wasn't going to go away easily.

As Ty cooked the coffee he'd been saving for a special occasion, Byron chatted about his up coming trip West. He had decided the Ty was right about waiting until the spring of the year to start out. He figured he could find work in town, just like Ty did to get cash saved up for the trip, if he was lucky.

Ty listened, not saying much, just grunting occasionally to indicate that he was listening. Should he be thinking what he was thinking?

"You want to stay with me for the winter?" Ty said suddenly before he even realized what he was saying.

"Sure! Really, could I?" Byron seemed surprised and was eager to confirm what he'd just heard.

"Sure, why not?" Ty said matter-of-factly, "I got a place, and you need a place, so why not share?"

"That'll be great! Now all I need t'do is find a job!" Byron was excited, it was working out better than he'd ever dreamed it could. He liked Ty, the way he always seemed to know the way to get things done. That other stuff, he'd forget about it, he didn't want to get busted in the mouth over something he really oughtn't even think about doing in the first place.

Ty smiled as he handed Byron a cup of streaming coffee, "You shore is excited."

"Thanks, Mister Jones," Byron said. He'd have hugged Ty except he had hot coffee in his hands and it would have spilled all over both of them if he had.

"Now, you call me that again, and the whole deals' off." Ty teased and he sipped the hot black brew. "I hope you don't take cream, 'cause I ain't got none."

"Naw," Byron said blowing across his cup before taking a tentative sip. "We never had cream at home that I ever recall." He lied, he hated black coffee, but this morning it tasted just fine.

They stood sipping their coffee and warming themselves in front of the small fire which still burned brightly in the fireplace, occasionally turning around to warm the other side. When they finished Ty took the plates and forks they'd used for dinner the night before, along with the other dirty stuff down to the stream and washed them. Byron stood by watching and learning how Ty did things.

When they returned to the cabin, Tom had returned from where ever it was he'd spent his night. Ty never had learned where that was. Now he sat washing his face with a paw, still eyeing suspiciously the stranger standing nearby.

Byron'd have to pitch in and do stuff, if he intended on staying the winter. He couldn't be a free-loader, he'd show Ty he wasn't that kind of person. And maybe, just maybe he'd be able to talk Ty in to going with him in the spring.

Wouldn't that be great, he thought almost said it outloud too, but changed his mind at the last minute.

When they'd put the dishes back in the cabin, Ty pulled the door shut tight, and they headed off down the trail toward town. Byron was still prattling on about what he was going to do in the spring, as they walked along the dusty trail.

"Well now, ya look like a lumber mill worker," Ty said shaking his head. "I was wonderin' how I could 'splain you to the boss wearin' them fancy duds." Byron had put on work clothes from his pack when he dressed.

Another trail joined the one they were on a short ways from town, and other men going to work came along that route behind them, so Ty knew he was not going to be late. The other men were white, but it didn't matter to them that he was on the road, because he never bothered them. However, when they saw Byron tagging along with him, their eyebrows raised and they chatted among themselves about it.

Finally when they got to the mill Ty said to Byron, "I'll ask Mister Johnson if'n he'll take you on here at the mill. You just wait outside while I goes in."

Ty disappeared inside and Byron paced back and forth in front of the door nervously. Shortly Ty returned and beckoned Byron to go in with him.

"Mister Johnson," Ty said very formally, "This here's a friend of mine, his name's Byron J. Harper," then he turned to Byron and said, "Byron, this is Mister Johnson. He owns this here fine mill. And he wanted to see who you were, and ta see if'n youse big enough to work in the mill."

Byron stepped up to the desk where the fat, cigar smoking man sat looking across at him through dark rimmed thick glasses.

"I'm mighty pleased to meet you, Sir," he said, "I'd be right proud to work in such a fine mill as you have here."

Ty smiled, the kid's bright, he picked up right quick what to say.

"Hmmm," Johnson grunted. He looked at Byron closely, studying his face for signs drinking and tobacco, then looking at his body up and down. When he could find no reason not to hire him, especially since he was short handed already, he stood up.

"You'll do," he said, "But mind you, if you're late for work you'll be docked. And if you don't show up, you're fired. And like the others, you get paid each Saturday."

"I thank you kindly, Mister Johnson," Byron beamed. Ty looked proudly at him smiling broadly.

"Okay, you two, get out of here and get to work."

"Yes, Sir!" They answered in unison.

Byron tagged along behind Ty all day, doing whatever needed to be done, as Ty showed him the mill and all the kinds of things which he might need know how to do. As Ty had seen in the office, he was a bright young man, eager and willing, strong and surefooted.

Whenever he had a chance to observe him, Johnson watched closely for any signs of laziness or weakness. He could see none and guessed the Byron would do well enough.

That afternoon at quitting time Ty and Byron headed back to the cabin, and stopped for a bath in the cool stream, and to get the sawdust and dirt out of their clothes. Byron found his pack easily and carried it with him to where they bathed. They didn't dawdle long after they were clean and dry, but hurried back up to the cabin to have dinner. It had been a long hard day, and Byron especially was hungry. Ty could tell by the way his stomach was making noises. He'd have to pack something for him to eat at noon, like the others did. He'd paid particular attention to them while they were resting and eating that day. It was mostly scraps of bread and fruit, so he guessed that wouldn't be all that bad. He'd have to make some biscuits tonight.

While Ty was busy fixing the biscuits and the leftovers from the stew from the night before, Byron was gathering the wood for the fire, and water from the stream. Once the fire was going good, Byron went outside and looked around. Out in back he saw that the supply of chopped wood was getting low, so he took the ax from the pegs on the back wall and set out to make some more. He found a fine looking birch that was fallen, and had dried but not rotted. He chopped it into two foot long sections, gathered them into his arms, and stacked them neatly where the others were. He made three such trips into the woods before Ty called him.

"You hungry?" Ty asked.

"Some," Byron wasn't going to admit to being starved, not when he was a guest.

"Some?" Ty laughed, "The way yore belly was growling all the way home, I'd guess you was hungry for real!"

Byron smiled, "I guess I could eat a bit." Ty put his arm on Byron's shoulder and they walked into the cabin. The smell of fresh baked biscuits and bubbling stew greeted them. Byron's stomach made a gurgling noise and they both laughed. The biscuits were squares rather than round, Ty just couldn't figure why folks bothered to make them round when they just had to rework the dough so many times to make the round ones. He just patted the dough out flat once on the floured bottom of his heavy cast iron skillet, then cut them with a knife. He set the skillet in the fireplace and waited until they were golden brown and crusty on top. He repeated the process twice, so there'd be some leftover for lunch the next day. He put out the jar he'd collected the wild bees' honey in next to the plate with the biscuits.

When they'd finished eating, Ty took down his pipe and filled it as he had done the night before. It was fully dark and like the night before, a slight breeze rustled through the trees. He stood looking out at the scene before him enjoying the flavor of his pipe and tobacco. When he finished, he went back inside.

He saw that Byron had stacked the plates and utensils on the table, and was already in bed fast asleep. Ty smiled as he looked down at the tousled hair of his new friend and the peaceful sleeping face. He was glad Byron had decided to stay on. He'd been alone too long.


One day followed the other pretty much the same. Finally Saturday arrived and provided a break. Johnson only worked the mill a half day on Saturday because most of the men who worked for him were single and had to have some time to do the things that a woman usually did for their menfolk. It wasn't that he was so kindhearted, he was just practical. He needed his workers there every day, and if they took time off to do these other things, he lost money. He paid them at noon and then they were free to go to the stores and do all the other things that needed doing.

They worked long hours every day, and most traveled a ways to get there, so it was good to have the extra time on Saturday to relax a bit. Sundays most spent fixing on their places.

Ty and Byron followed the crowd to the general store and Ty bought the things he needed. Byron just watched and looked around the store while Ty did the buying. Byron carried the cloth bag with the things the Ty had bought as they set off for home.

They didn't stop at the stream that day, but first went to the cabin to put away the things Ty had bought. When they finished Byron handed Ty the hand-full of coins he'd been paid.

"You take these," he said, "I can't live here with you for free, so you take out what's fair, and what's leftover you kin keep for me till I need it."

Ty took the money and put it in the place he kept his own savings. He didn't know how he was going to keep it all straight, but he'd figure it out later. He counted the coins Byron had given him, so he'd remember when he found another container to put Byron's in.

After putting everything in it's place, they hurried back to wash their clothes and have a swim. Usually Ty had other chores to do on Saturday, but with Byron there to help, these had already been done, so they were both free to relax and enjoy the time off. Sunday they could do the few other things that Ty thought it was time to do. But for today, it was relaxation.

After washing and swimming they laid out in the sun to dry. Since that first time, the day they'd met, and the next morning, Byron had been careful not to get too close to Ty when they were sleeping. Of course, when he was really asleep he couldn't help it, and in a way, he enjoyed the feeling being close to Ty's warm body. But he'd forgotten about the urge to touch him that he'd had those first days.

Byron lay first on his back and then on his stomach letting the sun dry his skin and add more color to his rich tan. Ty lay with his eyes closed against the bright sun, and wasn't really aware of what was going through his mind. It was kind of a jumble, and he just let it be that way.

Ty brushed away an insect that had found its way through his hair and had begun trekking across his face. Once the first one had found its way, it seemed like they all did. Seeing that he wasn't going to have any rest, Ty sat up and looked around.

Byron lay peacefully beside him on his stomach, his face turned sideways in the soft grass. The slow rising and falling of his back told Ty that he was most likely asleep. He felt the urge to lie close to him and feel his soft skin next to his own. Only a couple of times, since that first night had he remembered feeling Byron close to him. The long hours and hard work made sure that they both slept well.

As he sat there looking at the smooth skin of Byron's back glowing in the warm sun, he became aware of the familiar urges growing within him. He got up and walked to the water and slipped in quietly. The cool water he was sure would take away the feeling. He floated about noiselessly, but the sensations which the water caused against his body did nothing to quell the desire in his loins. He hoped that Byron would not wake and see him such a state. His desire increased the more he tried not to think about it and soon his cock was like a rock throbbing despite the cold water.

In his concentration on his problem, Ty hadn't noticed that Byron was standing on the bank watching him. Ty was facing away from the bank when he stood up in the shallow water which at that point came only to his knees. He'd decided that he'd climb out and lie in the sun some more.

Ty turned around and was stunned to see Byron standing on the bank. At first he had the urge to sink down into the water to cover himself, but realized it was too late for that. Since there was no way to avoid the situation, he decided to face it head on. He walked slowly to the bank, his mammoth cock bobbing before him, drops of glistening water dripping from the abundant foreskin which still mostly covering the purple glans. He said nothing as he climbed out. Byron watched in awe, his own cock rising slowly, seemingly dwarfed in comparison.

Ty stepped up onto the grass on started to walk passed Byron.

"Gosh," Byron said softly, "That is beautiful!" He reached out an touch it tentatively.

Ty stopped and stood motionless except for the pulsing in his aching cock which gave it a life all its own. When Byron touched it, it responded by jumping fully into Byron's soft white hand, which instinctively closed about it.

Ty thought he would shoot right then, but as Byron relaxed his grip, the sensation passed.

"You ever . . .?" Ty asked, not quite knowing what he was asking.

Byron nodded slowly. Ty took him gently into his arms and laid him on the warm grass, pressing his thick hot lips to the thin rose colored mouth which opened to greet them. For a time they lay on the grass pressing their bodies close together, rubbing against each other in rising passion.

After a few moments, Ty lay on his back with Byron atop him, kissing him furiously about the face and neck. With his large rough hand, Ty pressed Byron's head lower urging him on. Byron instantly sensing the desire's of this man, slid lower on his body and began tasting the silky skin which although clean had the scent of a man, and the familiar musky aroma of a Black man.

Ty held back to urge to explode as Byron's mouth explored every inch of his body. The hot tongue caressed his very being raising him beyond the heights he'd been before. None of the boys he'd slept with had ever made love to him this way before. It seemed that all they were interested in was having the big cock up their ass and getting their own pleasure.

But Byron wanted more than that, Ty felt, as he continued to explore Ty's body with tongue and fingers and hands and lips. When Byron finally covered the huge cock with his eager mouth and slid it down his hot throat, Ty exploded sending spurts of thick cum shooting out passed the flickering tongue down into Byron's gullet. When he felt the first splash against the back of his mouth, he forced his head down upon the hot pole, taking all of his strength to finally bring his face against the bristly thatch of hair at the base. Ty moaned and tossed about in the throes of ecstasy, holding Byron's head close to his body as he sent wave after wave of creamy fluid into him.

When at last Ty had started to relax again, Byron washed the length of the still enlarged, but softening cock with his tongue. As he finished he sat up and looked down into Ty's dark, glistening eyes.

Ty could see by the creamy smears on Byron's chest that he too had shot his load. Still breathing hard, Ty said nothing.

"I've wanted to do that since the first day I saw you here," Byron said softly.

"'n I've wanted you to do that and more," Ty sighed reaching up and pulling him close to him, feeling the sticky cum on against his own chest, remnants of Byron's spontaneous climax.

They lay quietly for a moment and then they separated and washed in the cool stream, playing and chasing. They laughed as Byron slipped on a stone in the water and fell backward disappearing for a moment beneath the surface. When he surfaced Ty pulled him close to himself and kissed him.

"Don't ever go away," Ty whispered. Byron returned the kissed, and relaxed as Ty lifted him up in the water eased the hot throbbing pole into his quivering ass. Byron moaned with pain at first as the mighty cock slipped out of its covering and rubbed roughly along the tender tissues, and then with pleasure as the length of the thick rod rubbed against his prostrate sending waves of pleasure through out his body. Ty edged slowly toward the shallows and finally sat down on the soft bottom of the stream. This allowed him to lift Byron's body up and down on his hot cock quickly bringing them both to another violent orgasm.

They clung to each other for a long moment before separating and cleaning themselves in the cool water. They relaxed in the soothing water before climbing out to dry on the grass in the warm sun, exhausted but refreshed. They both lay on their back letting the soft breeze caress their skin. The relaxing sleep of lovers crept over them allowing their bodies to recover.

Neither of them had any sense of regret when they awakened a while later. They felt fullfilled and warmed by the affection they had shared since the first moment they'd met. It would have been a strange sight to behold, had anyone happened upon them at that moment: two men, one Black, one White, one old, one young, lying asleep on the forest grass, completely naked, holding hands as they slept peacefully.

Luckily for them both, no one did see them. Byron may not have realized the danger that they were in had they been discovered, but Ty knew. He woke suddenly startled by the call of a bird overhead. Was someone coming? Had someone seen them? These thoughts and more raced through his mind. He shook Byron waking him.

"Come," he said, "We must go." They hurriedly dressed and rushed back to the cabin. When they arrived back at the cabin, he explained to Byron why he had been so anxious.

"There is very little chance that anyone might see us,"

Ty explained, "But if they had, we both would likely have been hanged. You just because it's the law. But I would met a less desirable fate. It's likely they would treat me roughly, cut off my privates and stuffing them in my mouth, and then they would hang me too. I know this, because I have seen it myself. Although the Black man involved had slept with a woman, his treatment was no less brutal."

"I'm sorry," Byron said. "I won't ever let this happen again." Byron was truly terrified, and repentant of what had happened.

"It was my fault too," Ty said, "But we must be careful when we are out where someone might see us together. Even here in the cabin, we can not be caught sleeping together."

Had it not been that Ty was so certain that no one would happen along during the night, before, he was not at all certain that now when they both worked at the same place, someone might just happen along at night and see them through the window.

"We must build you a bed, across the room from mine, and you must sleep in it."

Byron protested, but Ty insisted, "Only in this way will we both be safe. We will begin now, this very day." Ty had suddenly become deadly serious, and Byron knew that it was useless to protest further.

"Of course," Ty said smiling slightly, "There may be times, when we can rest together before we sleep. We will build a noisemaker which will warm us of anyone coming."

Byron smiled. He was glad that he was not to be banished from Ty's bed completely, now that they had shared this wonderful passionate experience. He hugged Ty tightly, then retreated when he realized what he had done.

"Come," Ty said, "Let us git started." And so began the task of building a second bed, not unlike the first, only smaller, across the room from Ty's. The frame was attached to the wall as was Ty's, and the bottom lined with dried grass pulled from where ever it might be found.

Late that night when the bed was finished, and they had eaten a cold meal, as they were both to tired to wait for the fire to warm it, they covered the window with a scrap of braided rug which Ty had found years ago and place by his bed to stand on.

"Tomorrow we'll rig a trip-wire around the cabin to tell us whenever anyone, or anything comes near. For now, we'll just listen."

For a long time, they lay close together in Ty's large bed their bodies warming each other. The strenuous work of creating the bed had tired Ty, and although his spirit was willing, his body was not, and they just lay together. Even Byron would have declined just from the tension of the circumstances.

"You know," Byron said, "You've got to come with me in the spring." Ty said nothing. He'd thought the same thing earlier, but wondered if he were up to the trip, and all that it meant. He didn't know if it'd be any different in the West than here. Would the laws be different? Would they ever be safe? He wasn't going to worry about that just yet. But, yes, he'd have to leave in the spring too, if Byron left. He couldn't live alone again after glimpsing what it was like.


In the weeks that followed, the fear and dread which had filled their beings that first day, gradually eased. No one ever came to their place during the daylight, much less at night, and occasionally Ty would relent and let Byron sleep with him all night. Only once in the time since they installed the trip-wire did they get a scare, when a raccoon stumbled across it sending them both scurrying to the window to see who was outside.

The work at the mill was steady and though strenuous, left them with ample time to pursue the simple pleasures they enjoyed. The coins they save were beginning to add up, and before the weather turned cold, Ty sent Byron one Saturday to the store where he could buy some winter clothing and a comforter.

Work in the garden at the edge of the clearing by the cabin proceeded well. The harvest had begun in potatoes, both the yams and whites which were buried in the new cellar under the table. It was still not as large as Ty would have liked it, but it provided more space than he'd had previously. With Byron eating from it too, it had to be bigger. The beans and pea of all varieties were dried and bagged, as were the fruits and nuts collected from a variety of trees which grew nearby.

When Byron returned from his shopping trip, he proudly display his purchases. He'd had enough to also buy a warm new shirt for Ty. The fit on all the clothes was close enough, and the comforter was fluffy and warm looking.

Ty hoped that the work at the mill would continue through out the winter, though sometimes, it didn't. When it stopped, he went to work for the lumber man who supplied the trees for the mill, as his work force in winter was larger than in summer. The work was required less skill, but more endurance. And as the year passed, he had less and less of that. He had no doubt the Byron could handle the work, even if he couldn't. And they could make it with only Byron working, if they didn't spend excessively.

One morning when they woke, they found the ground covered with the first snow of the winter. The sky was still filled with dark gray clouds, and occasional flakes still drifted down to join those already there.

It was pretty, if not welcome. They saw that the small creatures of the forest had visited their clearing after the snowfall had ceased for their tracks crossed and recrossed it in lazy patterns. Tom had retreated to the harth near the fireplace and lay curled into a golden ball of fur.

Both were disinclined to go out into the cold, but both knew equally well, that they had to go. The new warmer clothing was pressed into service, and so the winter season began.

As the days and weeks passed, it became increasingly more difficult to make the trek to the mill each day. More time had to be allotted for the trip. It was always dark now when they returned, and they made more and more trips to the wood pile at the back and sides of the cabin to feed the fireplace's voracious appetite for logs. If the weather continued cold, they be out of the logs they'd worked long and hard to stack up, before February was half over.

Midway through January the cold spell broke, and a warm breeze began blowing across the mountains, and drifts melted in its path. For three weeks it did not get close to freezing, and they both enjoyed the warmer weather.

Just as quickly as it had turned warm, it turned cold again. And with it came more snow, and just as the snow had begun to slow to a few flakes, the wind picked up and the temperature began to drop.

By morning ice covered the window from the moisture of their breathing. Ty scraped it off with his hand, but still couldn't see past the clearing to the trees. The supply of logs that they carried in the night before was nearly exhausted, and the cabin was cold. Water in the bucket on the table was frozen.

Ty was about to put on his heavy coat to go outside, when Byron put his hand on his shoulder.

"You stay in here, I'll go bring in some more logs. We won't be going in to the mill today," Byron said firmly.

He was right of course, Ty thought, it would be foolish to try to walk that distance in the storm. Byron pulled on his coat and with Ty's help pushed open the door and hurried out into the storm. He returned with armfuls of the snow covered logs, which Ty stacked along the wall by the fireplace. When the space was full Byron came inside and pulled the door fully closed. He kicked the tattered rug around the bottom to keep out the wind and cold.

In a short time the fireplace was kicking out heat once again, although they kept the blaze as low as they could, to save on fuel. Ty fried some salt pork and cornmeal and made a pot of dark coffee to warm them inside.

The cat moved quickly away as Byron tended the fire finding a place nearby, safely out of reach of the man, he still regarded as a stranger.

He found a place in Ty?s lap as they sat close to the fire and talked in low voices as the wind outside howled violently, often blowing smoke back into the cabin. Sometimes so much smoke came back that they had to back away, and once even had to open the door to clear it out. They built the fire hotter to keep the draft stronger.

The storm lasted until late the next day before the wind died down. Byron made another trip out into it early the second morning. They were both sick to death of the cold and snow, and Byron was coughing more and more as the hours passed. Ty dared not think of the cause for it, for he had nothing to ease the fever which was evidently accompanying the cough. Byron's forehead was damp with perspiration as evening approached, and he shivered as he ate little of the food that Ty prepared for them.

Byron didn't complain of being ill, but said he was tired and went to bed early. Ty stoked the fireplace well, and climbed into bed with him to keep him warm, although his body was hot with fever. Ty knew that if he allowed Byron to become chilled pneumonia would surely follow. Ty bathed his face with a cool damp cloth to make him more comfortable all through the night.

Just as the storm abated during the night, so did the fever leave Byron's tired body. In the morning Ty was reluctant to leave him, but Byron insisted, as they hadn't been to work in two days.

"I'll be able to go tomorrow," Byron said, "Tell Mister Johnson I'm comin' tomorrow."

Ty nodded and trudged off through the snow in the bright sunlight of the early morning. The snow was deep, but Ty got there at the same time as the others. Johnson was there to see how many showed up on time. No one, it turned out, had been there the two days of the storm, not even Johnson. But that didn't mean they'd get paid, it just meant, they wouldn't be docked for missing the days.

"Fair was fair," was all Johnson would say.

When Ty told him that Byron had a fever, Johnson said it was too bad, and hoped it wouldn't last too long. When Ty said that he'd be in the next day, Johnson said that he hoped so. "Such a caring man," Ty said under his breath as he left the office.

Much of the day was spent clearing out the snow which had blown into the mill during the storm, and stoking the kilns which dried the lumber after it was sawed. They did manage to get about a third of a day's production sawed in spite of the delay.

Ty fairly ran most of the way back to his cabin through snow and dark. Exhausted, he could barely push the snow away from the door to open it. When he went inside he found Byron up and about, with the fire blazing brightly, the cabin warm as toast. The supply of logs had been replenished, and there was a hot stew bubbling in the kettle hanging in the fire.

He wanted to hug him, he was so glad that he was better, but he thought he shouldn't lest the cold from his body be a hindrance to his recovery. But Byron did the hugging, and Ty's eyes misted with tears of joy.

"I'm so glad you're better," Ty said.

"You needn't have worried," Byron said brushing Ty's tears away, "Don't ya know only the good die young?"

Thus the spring of 1842 began, and the winter died in a flood of icy water down the mountainside. As the weather warmed, and grass greened, Byron began talking of moving on to the West. And after the severe winter they'd just experienced, Byron said that California was his goal.

Ty had heard about it too, and from what he'd heard the weather there was good, warm almost year around. Ty began thinking about what he'd have if he left there.

"So what do you have now?" Byron asked one day as they talked.

"Well," Ty thought about it, "Nothing much 'cept'n my place. It wasn't quite true, but the money wasn't all that much, and he didn't know how much the land was worth.

"Yeah," Byron said, "And if'n the loggers come this way, you won't likely have it much longer. Least ways you'll loose your trees and and stuff."

"Yeah," Ty said, "'Spose yur right 'bout thet."

"There's bound to be lots a jobs in California too."

Byron said encouragingly. He could see that Ty wasn't keen on leaving his place behind, even if it wasn't that much.

Ty thought it over that night. Here he was, fifty some years old, leaving all he had behind, living with some White kid barely old enough to be on his own. Both heading for a place neither one had been before. Which one's crazier? he wondered.

During the night he dreamed.

He saw the loggers coming tearing down the birch and elders around his place, burning down his cabin to make a road. He saw himself standing alone watching it all happen. Then he saw Johnson telling him he was too old to work in the mill. Finally he saw himself lying in the road all alone dying in the dirt.

He woke with a start, and realizing that he had been dreaming, lay back again next to Byron who'd crept into his bed after he was asleep. Yes, he thought, he'd have to leave this place. How could he stay behind? He closed his eyes and slept.

To be continued ---

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