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Elena Hale's PRIVATE Diary (Oregon Trail)
May 28, 1842 – Day 26
Twenty-six… what a lovely number! Only five more days and we will have been in this wagon train for one whole month! I can’t believe it. I know so many people say this, but time has flown so fast! ‘Course, cough cough, it didn’t fly nearly as fast as the sand and dust and dirt kicked up at us— you know, being second to last and all. But, I mean, I’m not complaining or anything, cough cough, it’s much safer back here. Not at the brunt of an Indian attack—not that we’ve had one yet (thank goodness)!
Plus, the two wagons surrounding ours contain my two best friends! Jade Fey and her family are in the wagon in front of us, and Karen Fritz and her family are behind us. Have I mentioned that before? There are also a couple girls in the first two wagons: Charlotte Milsberg and Rachel Sherman. This is a very friendly wagon train. We have already had a “slumber party” underneath Rachel’s wagon, although it’s Jade and Karen who are close.
Any way, for the whole month I’ve known them, we’ve been inseparable (yep, another well known phrase). We take turns riding in each other’s wagon, and sleep next to each other at night. Just this afternoon Mr. LaRue called us the JEK GIRLS—Jade, Elena, and Karen. Hey, that’s actually in age order; 11, 13, and 13! Karen’s a month older than I am. We had stopped the train and rested beside a beautiful river before we crossed, and we three were gathering water—together. I can't say I don’t like the nickname.
Time to set up camp. Mother’s calling—I think I’m supposed to clean and cook stuff. ‘Night.
June 18, 1842 – Day 47
I’ve got good news… and bad news. Which first? Bad news. Remember Mr. LaRue? He has twin boys, Connor and Peter—and plenty of chicken (more than anyone else)! Unfortunately, this morning they all got loose. You see, Mr. LaRue is pretty far up the wagon train. When the chickens broke free, the horse behind the LaRue wagon went crazy, and trampled some hens. After that, it was a chain reaction. The poor chickens!
Oh yes; the good news. To his dismay, when Mr. LaRue gathered his chickens, they were all… well, stomped out of shape, and since he could not eat all of the chicken before it would spoil, he sold it really cheap. We JEK GIRLS got one with intact thighs and legs, so we had a feast. Ahhh… I love chicken.
Everyone loves good chicken. Do you know what the LaRue twins did? They gave slices of roasted chicken to the elderly, sick, and pregnant. I think it was Connor’s idea. Guess what—Jade just told me that her mother is expecting! Actually, she’s been showing for a while now—I just didn’t notice. Ahem. Jade’s been hoping for a girl. She even picked out Holly as a suggestion for her name! Jade already has two younger brothers, so it’s no wonder she wants a younger sister. Anyway, Connor those boys were so sweet, giving chicken out for free. It’s not cheap, you know.
Today was fun and exciting; just like that one I told you about when we thought that the friendly Indians were attacking. They taught us how to really survive in the wilderness, and made delicious soup.
Sigh. Nighty-night circle time.
July 20, 1842 – Day 79
Ah; this morning was lovely, the sunrise so majestic—just to be shattered by Karen’s screeching siblings. From what I could make out of their screaming, their cattle had disappeared! Immediately, Mr. Fritz took over the situation. This was his conclusion (and I quote him exactly):
“The ropes that held the cows were probably weak from traveling, and in the middle of the night, something might have spooked the cattle. They would have pulled harder at the ropes, which would have snapped. We just found out now because of the heavy fog last night.”
Karen’s family really needs their beef; they don’t have any other livestock, and there are six children. So Mr. LaRue, my father, and Jade, Rachel, and Charlotte’s fathers organized a search party while the wives took care of the kids. Karen and I are in charge of the little ones. I’ll write more later.
You’ll never believe what happened! Not only did the men and boys come back leading the Fritz cattle, but they came staggering in with a humungous bear! Father says the grizzly was just standing there, and was looking half asleep. Of course, the LaRue boys strut around as if they charged a roaring bear and came out unscathed with the bear in tow, one hand tied behind their back. Boys. At least Father grew up.
August 25, 1842 – Day 115
I still can't believe that I’ve been on this wagon train for over a hundred days (I know, that’s the fifteenth time I’ve said that). I’m so excited, that I woke up early. No one else is up yet. I’m just writing in my wagon with our lantern.
Now that Jade’s little sister, Holly, was born, we’ve been going slower, to make it easier on them. We could be in Oregon sooner if it wasn’t for this. We still have 740 miles to go! Never mind—I’m not feeling bitter or any thing. Forget I said that. Arg! Today is the birthday of Connor and Peter! The first teenagers in our train to celebrate their birthday! They are turning 15. The train grapevine says that there will be a big celebration. I can't wait!
OK, this is odd, but there are strange noises coming from out side. As in, to my right side; out side of the night circle. OK, so they’re getting louder. I’d better wake Father.
I have never, ever been so relieved in my life. I was right. There was something going on. When I woke Father up, he poked his head out of the wagon—right into a heavily painted… Indian face. Make that faces. They attacked. I can only wonder how it felt like to wake up to a blood curdling war cry—on your birthday. Poor Connor! Poor twins!
Somehow, we got the Indians to stop attacking. Then the chief stepped forward and informed us in broken English that they had been following us for days, ever since we had entered their tribal land. When we settled down last night on their ancient burial place, though, that was the last straw. The Indians looked ready, and more than willing, to attack again. Suddenly, the twins ran up, carrying between them a large woven basket with a lid elaborately painted all over!
“Wait!” Connor called desperately. “If we give you this, can you leave us alone?” (Wasn’t that so brave of him? Willing to risk his life for us!) Peter lifted the lid, and inside—oh, inside was the largest, fanciest cake you could ever imagine! It must have taken days to decorate. Yet even more proof of the twins’ humble hearts.
Yes, YES! The Indians took the basket, and left. I think they were more interested in the basket than what was inside! At least we are all in one piece. I do not believe I can sleep tonight. You know, I have always thought that being in the back would mean that we don’t get the brunt of an Indian attack. But now, we have had an Indian attack—and we were targeted first! Just because I was writing with a lantern, they could probably see me. I should probably get to bed.
October 5, 1842 – Day 156
Yes. No. Today it finally happened; no more water. Mrs. Fey took the last fourth cup for Holly, her baby. She didn’t look too good—the baby, that is. Blah. Alkali water isn’t the greatest either. Right now I am bouncing along in our wagon—our home. Hey, would you look at that; an old sign we just passed said Oregon, and from what I can make out, 200 miles. Oh, yes we are so close! This is what we have been waiting for!
Ahh! What was that? A shrill cry just about shattered my—oh, NO. I think something bad just happened ahead of us. I’ll be right back.
I could cry. Wait; I am crying. Holly is unconscious. I think she passed out from dehydration or the heat! She is just barely over one month. Everybody is looking for any water containers with just a teeny little bit of water in them. I’m on super high alert to find a river for water. Which means I should stop writing.
Oh, hallelujah! We found a river! Mrs. Fey dabbed Holly’s parched lips with a wet cloth and tried to let her drink some. Slowly, Holly started moving! Now she is under extreme care (of all the mothers on the train combined, including Mrs. Milsberg and Mrs. Sherman) and should be doing better by tomorrow. We will wait a few days, though, to replenish all of our health and stock up on water.
I am so happy; I’m surprised that I can even write with relatively good handwriting! I’m not the only one. Connor was… yes, he was crying with tears of joy along with me! He has always been so kind and caring. And while we’re on the topic of random things, we JEK GIRLS gave Charlotte a new nickname; CAM, for Charlotte Ann Milsberg.
Speaking of travel, we should be arriving in Oregon twenty days or so! I am so excited and enthusiastic and exuberant and energetic and—and—Mother is saying that I will never sleep. I agree. This is what we have been waiting for for over five months! I promise a ten paged report when we arrive!
YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!
200 miles couldn’t go faster!
Especially when a very nice boy
just gave you an
to dry your tears