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There was an excitement about the camp. Outsiders had arrived.
“The French trader is here.” Gentle Doe told Cassie.
Twice a year the Frenchman journeyed to the villages on the mountain. Twice each year the people could trade with him. Cassie from a distance watched the people haggling for his wares.
“Ghostwoman?” (author note.The People referred to Cassie as the Ghostwoman) A young brave called to her.
She didn’t know his name even though she had seen him in the camp a few times. Apparently, Wolfkeeper was busy working with the horses and sent the boy to fetch her. She found him in the corral with the animals.
‘‘The French trader has come. You are to trade with him. I am too busy to take you. Red Fox will take you and you will trade for us. Replace the knife that broke. In addition, he has many things, so be sure to ask to see his foodstuffs as well. Don’t forget the white man’s sugar and get a bag full. Woman, you may choose anything else you want for the lodge. I mean anything. I will settle up with him later. Can I trust you to see to our needs?”
He half ordered and inquired.
Why is he always so full of surprises? Why would he trust me?
She hadn’t done anything to earn it. Unsure what his motive might be she agreed and wondered.
What is he up to now?
That’s it; she figured it out…our needs… he said. If she did poorly selecting the things they needed and he’d to go without, so would she. Then she would ever hear to end of it. Would he beat her? She decided or rather hoped, not.
But, he would sure nag me to death over it and surely he’d call me a stupid woman again.
“I will do as you ask,” she answered knowing he didn’t ask but told her what to do.
The Frenchman named Pierre watched her walking toward him. He saw immediately she was not of, The People.
“Bonjour, Madame.” He spoke with a heavy French-Canadian accent.
“Can I be of aid to you.” he asked.
Red Fox explained she was to be given anything she requested and his uncle would settle later. The Frenchman knew this boy’s uncle Eagle something or other and knew the amount would be fair. The boy’s family had many important members.
The trader Pierre smiled telling the woman to make her choices. Cassie purchased the knife; sugar; flour; corn meal; molasses; raisins; dried apples; two blankets, and a Dutch kettle. And a box of lemon scented soaps among a few other things.
‘‘How long will you be here in case I have forgot anything?” she asked.
“ I stay, three days each time I pass through,” he explained and then in a lowered voice, “Is there any other way I can help you?”
Did she dare? Red Fox had moved out hearing range.
“Where do you go from here?” Cassie whispered.
“After three more camps I end up at Fort Trent. Do you need help?” He inquired knowing she did.
“I must leave here. I am not here by choice. Will you consider taking me to the fort?” She still whispered.
He eyes raked her body up and down Cassie didn’t miss the lust as he eyed her. She continued anyway.
‟I have a child that must go with me.”
When he told her under no certain terms would take the child. She grew upset until he explained he had to go to the other camps, not to do so would endanger her escape. The people might let her go but the child, never.
Cassie would not chance the life of her son. She asked about the next time he came. He will return in the fall. He told he could arrange it so this was the last stop. However, he then moved to his winter camp and didn’t go to the fort until spring. Lecherous eyes raked her again.
Would he chance it? Would she chance it?
Bending low to her ear he whispered,“The winters on the other side of the mountain are very cold, Madame. Do you know what I would expect from you?”........
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Français : « Le fameux Pierre Le Royer », photographie prise en 1889 tirée de L'album universel, vol. 19 no 31. p. 721 publié en 1902 dans lequel l'image est recadrée.