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Chapter 3

1634: Time Passes; Seasons Turn

The summer moved ahead, with days filled with hard work. Sometimes a boat would come upriver. If the travelers chose to stop, they'd made make the crew a meal in exchange for some news. It was obvious they wouldn't have many new neighbors. The big push to move upstream from New Amsterdam and resettle around West Point had burned itself out. The official line of the New Amsterdam's Dutch government was that the French just weren't interested in them. They had nothing to fear. Kilaen van Renssalaer had gone back to Holland, since the war between the Netherlands and France was officially over. Very few believed that was a lasting condition. Eliezer and Arrow were unworried. Their claim to their property was likely to be rock-solid forever. No one would challenge a deed granted by the great patroon.

Little news came down the river, but there weren't enough settled people up there to generate a lot of news. Some hinted that the Susquehannock might be on the move, but nobody had any definite information. That tribe lived well to the southwest. The Iroquois would've known, because of their mutual hate relationship with the Susquehannock, but any Iroquois canoes on the Hudson must've passed without notice. The Five Nations traded in Fort Orange and New Amsterdam. Furs could become muskets and metal goods. It was a long way to Mohawks or Oneida territory. Arrow's tribal family didn't yet know about her return or about the couple's home on the Hudson. The Iroquois knew at least as much as their sharp eyes would have picked out in passing. Expert observers that they were, that was considerable.

With the corn high, Arrow's perpetual battle with the weeds continued. She had a slight "bump" behind her navel, but the baby would be born during the winter months. For Native Americans and poor Europeans, that was a birthing-time to be feared. Too many diseases lurked indoors during the crowded winter months, and few homes had decent heat or ventilation. Lungs were continually strained by smoke from leaky fireplaces or cook-fires in longhouses. Babies' still-developing lungs often couldn't take the stress. A spring or summer baby had a better chance.

However, the longhouse on the Hudson would be warm, warmer than the majority of 1634 homes. Smoke, which belonged outside, would go outside. Before spring, the baby's exposure to disease would only be those carried by its two healthy parents and its sister. Winter babies that survived were often the strongest and smartest later in life.

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The longhouse's general structure was complete. The end with the stove hadn't been completely closed in, because the chimney still needed to be built where the stove-pipe ended. The end toward the river was closed, with the doorway covered by a traditional tanned bearskin. Winter would call for a better door.

The time had come at last for Eliezer to begin thinking about a forge. He'd solved the mortar problem. The solution was almost ridiculously easy. He needed clay, sand, and the same kind of moss found in a baby-carrier, to act as a fibrous framework throughout the mortar. He preempted some of the ashes from Arrow's prize stove, over her objection. All would need to be solidified by plenty of heat. He began hauling rocks, with an eye toward a chimney and the other eye toward a forge. The Dutch mason in New Amsterdam, who'd told him the trick about the mortar, indicated that just a good dead-wood fire would be enough heat to cure it.

He'd also told him the mason's joke-that-wasn't-a-joke: "Haul twice as many rocks a you think you'll need, and then you'll only have to go back three times."

He built a canoe. That was one skill he was likely never to forget, since a canoe had almost cost him his life. This one would be larger than his original one-man canoe, because the time would come that it would have to carry a wife and possibly several children. Upstream, where the river was forced to bend near West Point, there were a number of sandbars. He hauled back load after load of sand in the canoe, in Arrow's biggest cooking pots. The screeching could probably have been heard in West Point. She promised/threatened to make him baskets instead. The sand and rocks made a good test for a heavy human load it might haul later. It also made it plain that he needed a bigger, flat-bottomed boat for bigger loads. He was having to make too many trips for materials. Even with a hard-wood plank solid in the bottom, the canoe was unstable with heavy loads, and he came close to having it roll on him more than once.

Still, he finished the chimney, with mortared rocks on the outside and mortar lining inside, cured by a wood fire and filled with sand to the height of the stove pipe. The base had to be wider, to support the rocks of the chimney top. From the stove-pipe upward, he laid the rocks more carefully and increased the thickness of the mortar lining. Once he had his forge up and running, he'd band the chimney with thin, brass strips. He was planning for that chimney to help heat his longhouse for many, many years.

The forge was like a squat version of the chimney, with a base of big, mortared rocks and a second layer of slightly smaller rocks. The thick mortar lining would be fire-hardened and filled with sand. A wood fire inside cured the mortar. He'd then add more sand. He planned to save his back by building the forge's top up to waist level. hat way, he'd need less bending. He missed the pile of steel scrap that had been beside the Grantville forge, and when he had time to think about it, he missed his Grantville friends.

The barkless elm he'd been saving would make adequate charcoal, but the smaller pieces took a lot of sawing. Fallen elm trunks would lie until 1635. A year with out live growth would destroy their no-split nature. Arrow didn't mind burning the smaller pieces in the stove, but they inevitably argued over just what a "smaller" piece was. For charcoal, he needed a piece longer that his arm and about that diameter. Cut in half, those were just the right size for the stove.

The man who'd do the "cutting in half" kept dragging his feet, wanting the longer, unsawn pieces to make charcoal for his developing forge. Once the longhouse was complete, leftover elm bark just needed to dry to go into her fire-box, but it was little more than kindling. With her stove riding on its stone platform, she was now playing the heat like a professional musician played some complex instrument, with just the right heat for just the right time.

The forge was complete. Eliezer had laid his "hot" surface, stone by hammer-shaped stone, not depending of sand or crumbly mortar to hold burning charcoal. No coals would be escaping the stone rim, but the whole was open to the air. In the summer, without much rain, that made no difference, but the winter would come eventually, and the Hudson Valley was hardly rain- or snow-free.

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Every project needed to be done right now. He needed charcoal, but he needed a shed to keep the charcoal in, to keep it dry. He had his forge, but it, too, needed to be covered before the colder months arrived. Forges and snow made poor bedfellows. This year, Arrow would the able to store her corn and other vegetables dry, hung from the crossbeams of their longhouse, desiccating in the dry air rising from her stove. Next year kept calling him, though he dodged when he could. Next year, there'd be another baby who needed space. Thunder would constantly grow to need more space, and every home accumulated more things that were just as essential to their life-style as drying vegetables would be. If he tried to stack his sacks of charcoal in Arrow's longhouse, words would be said.

He needed lumber, but wedging out lumber one plank or beam at a time ate into his own production in other areas. There was lumber to be had in New Amsterdam, and a bigger boat to haul lumber could also be bought there, but in the "civilized" world, the matter of payment would always rear its ugly head. He had some cash left, acquired long ago from the Bank of Grantville, but not that much anymore. He looked for an answer, and he found one, but it wasn't exactly the answer he'd hoped for.

With Arrow's help, they assembled another stove, keeping it as covered and dry as possible. The rest of the answer lay in New Amsterdam, and he hated to leave his family and farm. He might've hated that, but Arrow utterly refused to travel right then. Kissing her and his daughter goodbye, he headed the canoe downstream.

Perhaps the merchants in New Amsterdam had dealt with Indians during trade before, but Eliezer definitely wasn't one of those Indians. He knew what things were worth, and it wasn't the elevated price initially stated by the merchant. He needed lumber, or he needed cash to buy the lumber. Going directly to the source seemed the best idea. He sought out the man with the lumberyard, Simon van Tanken, and began dickering for a boat-load of planks and beams. When they’d grown close in price, he left off and sought out der meesteres van het huis, the mistress of Herr Van Tanken'’s house.

Using the politeness skills that he'd learned in the Mennonite household, he was soon able to wax eloquent about the benefits of a Smith-St. Clair stove. The lumberman's frugal wife fell in love with the idea of a stove for cooking to replace the wood-eating, smoky fireplace in her home. Poor Van Tanken never had a chance. He ended up trading a boatload of lumber and a small quantity of silver for a stove that he'd never seen.

It was like a great treaty negotiation. Eliezer convinced him to load the lumber aboard a barge, bringing Frau Van Tanken and Eliezer and his canoe along, with the barge to be rented from the extra silver from the trade. When they reached West Point, if the Dutch wife was unsatisfied, the lumber and the barge would go back downstream, with Eliezer paying for the barge's round trip. On the other hand, if she were satisfied, the lumber would be unloaded and replaced by the stove. Eliezer would ride back aboard the barge to New Amsterdam. While there, he'd negotiate for a boat larger than a canoe that he could pole back upriver himself. That was a separate transaction, that might or might not work out. He might end up walking back to West Point. It was so simple that a child of twelve, who happened to have a degree in economics, could understand it.

Blessedly, Arrow and the Dutch wife hit it off immediately. Few women had been among their rare visitors. Arrow couldn't wait to show off her daughter and her prize stove, praising all its great features. The lumberman's wife was entirely pleased, and Eliezer had his load of lumber. They headed back downstream with stove, stove-pipe, and passengers. Unbelievably, Arrow left her garden and house and traveled with them, chatting with the Dutch woman all the way. Perhaps she'd missed female companionship. Perhaps Clara van Tanken, cuddling baby Thunder, missed small children, especially small girl-children. Her two surviving sons were seven and nine.

Eliezer had to tap part of his letter of credit on the Hudson's Bay Company to purchase a flat-bottomed boat, small enough for he and Arrow to pole back to West Point. It would be heavy and hard work, because he also bought many sacks of raw iron ore. On the next trip, he hoped to see bars of refined iron from the mines and smelters in Newfoundland. He'd also have to watch that his pregnant wife didn’t strain too much.

Wherever they went in New Amsterdam, he listened. The very air vibrated with rumors. Who knew how true they were? Nevertheless, they were exactly the kind of thing that Sir Thomas Roe had asked Eliezer to report to him.

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