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The Float Master took Grandfather to Esquire Garnsey’s home. There, Grandfather was welcomed, given dry clothing, a bowl of hot water for bathing, and a warm meal.

 

Esquire Garnsey’s indentured servant had taken Grandfather’s horse to an outbuilding where he wiped him down, gave him a meager sample of grain and a large amount of fresh grass. The servant brought, to Grandfather’s room, those things that remained tied to the saddle.

 

During supper Esquire Garnsey probed Grandfather about his trip from Salem. He was surprised to learn of the route that Grandfather had taken. He was not surprised to hear about the Indian returning his horse.

 

“Must have been young John Leaf. He is the only one I can think of who would not ride off.” When the Esquire asked Grandfather for a description the reply was not clear.

 

Grandfather had responded “Except for one thing there was nothing remarkable about him.”

 

Grandfather continued his memory of the encounter. “The Indian was young and he did have one strange thing – – – it was a tattered blue and red silken scarf wrapped around his waist. The loose ends hung down to reach his knees.”

 

“Yes – – – it was John Leaf” responded Esquire Garnsey, “You met John Leaf. He lived with a French family for a year. They found him in the woods with a broken leg. He speaks no English, some French and a lot of Indian. The red and blue scarf was a gift to him from a young French woman.

 

Grandfather assumed that the young Indian was nursed to health up north, on Lake Champlain, where a few French Families remained. “How did he come to reach way down here?” asked Grandfather.

 

“A few French families lived near here, just over the mountains, westward, close to the Chenango River” responded the Esquire. “Moved there to escape the revolution in France – – -reached here about 1792 – – only stayed abut two years – – moved down river to meet some other French folks in Pennsylvania. An adventure laced with disaster, it was.”

 

With that Esquire Garnsey abruptly stopped his story and said “Now disaster, young man, is what you nearly had. Almost lost your horse and your life.”

 

Grandfather did not care to be referred to as “Young Man”, especially from another man who might even be younger than him. Grandfather recognized it for what it was; a rather lame attempt by the Esquire to give himself more status than he deserved.

 

“Land agents – – – an interesting lot” thought Grandfather. It was only then that Grandfather suddenly realized, and stated out loud, that in the hubbub and aftermath of the float accident he had not paid the Float Master.

 

He still owed him the “Five cent to cross.”

 

© wtomosky

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