Destruction Aftermath, Book 2a
Chapter 43

Copyright© 2012 by radio_guy

After George finished (see Preservation and Protection, Book 1) telling his story, I asked the question no one else seemed willing to ask. "George, how does marriage work?"

George replied, "We allow plural marriage. All parties have to have reached the age of consent, which we voted to be fifteen. All have to be willing and publicly announce their union. I started out with one wife but she and Judith got me to go along with Judith coming into our marriage. It has worked well for us. We neither advocate it nor deny it. We had a foursome of two men and two women who were very happy. One of the men was killed defending new settlers when animals attacked. The other three have continued on. We have two brothers married to one woman. However, most of our marriages are one man and one woman."

The Somerseters seemed to be satisfied with his explanation. He added, "It would be our intention at Protection to bring all who desire to join with us into immediate, full membership and to confirm all relationships. Nothing I have heard suggests that there would be any problems.

"We also have a strong church relation in our community as you have heard in my story. Most marriages have been confirmed there though it's not required. Our governing council meets every two weeks. Everyone is invited. We have a meal after the meeting and enjoy the fellowship. Sunday is for church and our services have a meal following.

"The land is fruitful and we have plenty to eat. We are gradually moving toward a more full economy with some people trying crafts and trading for food with those who are truly farmers. I furnish medical services with one of my wives. My other wife and another young, married couple work the farm. We have a constant surplus with the gifts from patients. Our biggest problem is technology. We need more people willing to get things moving. Some of the old technical items are coming to an end of their useful lives. We need to put things together to keep us from going further backward from technical things."

Vic spoke up, "Do you have power?"

George replied, "We have some. We desperately could use someone who knows enough to hook up the right wires and get some of the far-flung farms onto the grid again."

Dave smiled, "When we get there, I will do what I can."

Tom said, "We will be able to continue flying. We can connect with Preservation easily by air. I think that we can keep better contact than even by radio with personal visits. We can also help Bennie and Janice with their trip by scouting for general things as they head north." He looked at us. "I hope you will come with us to Protection before resuming your trip."

I looked at Bennie and he nodded. Everyone smiled at that. The private discussions that followed were intense but those I overheard were focused upon when the trip would be made and not if. I did not hear anyone who didn't want to go. People would talk to George about what they should and shouldn't bring with them.

All in all, it was a good meeting and we reported in to Mama Shirley over the net. When everyone dispersed for the night, George came with us since there was an extra bedroom available. We spent some more time talking with him trying to get opinions from Bennie and me about the Somerseters. Since we were comfortable with them, I think we made George happy. We all went off to bed.

In the morning, George was taken back to Protection with a list of families. He told us that Protection would prepare houses for us. Many of the Somerseters wanted to settle toward Jackson. George was fine with that. He said that it would be a new direction but a welcome one. His list included those who were city dwellers and had skills that needed some technical equipment not available at a farm. He left with Tom and Vic in the plane with him. They would return after lunch.

After seeing the plane off, we went back with Amy and began to pack and help her pack. She and Vic had a wagon and we began to load it planning to put a tarp over everything once we finished. She suggested that we hunt for another. She said that many people would need a wagon and help on the trip.

I told Bennie to search for wagons while I continued to help Amy sort through what she would and wouldn't take to Protection. I suggested that they take no furniture except for keepsake items and only a fair amount of clothing. On the other hand, I said that they should load themselves down with personal items. Those were the things that couldn't be replaced including pictures. She brought a number of electric appliances that she liked. She said that Dave would get the power going and they could be used then. We had lunch with Bennie still gone and Vic joined us for a late sandwich. He agreed with the plans for what to take and said that our choices matched up with what George had told Tom and him and that they saw during a quick tour of Protection. Bennie came back in time for supper and told of three more wagons that he had found though one would need work before it could be used.

It was three days before everyone was ready to move. Tom and Vic made a couple of trips to Protection with some light items but most wanted to wait rather than make a quick trip there and back by air. We planned to camp out in a minimal way on the trip. We finally left figuring on duration of fifteen days if we were lucky. Bennie felt three weeks would be good because the Somerseters were not used to traveling and we had small children and animals with us. George in Protection offered to send people to help but, unless we had to fight someone, we would have no problems that more people could help.

The second and third days were the worst. We set out with a will but tired muscles and recalcitrant beasts made the second and third days a real effort. On the fourth day, people started to get used to the method of travel and we began to make acceptable mileage. However, in the first week, we only had gone between fifty and sixty miles. Even Bennie's estimate looked optimistic in face of our actual progress.

On that seventh night, we were in our tent when I told him of my concern. He said, "It's true that, if we held to the same progress, we would be five or six weeks or more. However, we lost a lot of time on the second and third days. If we can get up to ten miles a day or so, it will still be about four weeks more. I think we will have some even better days."

Bennie's statement proved accurate. All the people and animals got used to traveling and we made better than ten miles a day for the rest of the trip. We reached Protection early one afternoon with a number of people of horseback helping and greeting us. The Somerseters were overjoyed to see the welcome. A couple of the women cried with joy. An impromptu corral had been built and we were invited to come to church for a celebration and meal. It was a reception and a joyous occasion. George and his wives welcomed Bennie and me. Judith was pregnant with her third or fourth. I didn't really keep count. The three of them seemed happy. I whispered to Bennie that we would stay a couple so he shouldn't get any ideas!

The party and celebration were great. Bennie and I would stay with George's family. The rest of the Somerseters were paired off with various families of Protection until permanent housing was chosen. I knew that Tom and Vic would want to be close to the airport. That night, I talked to Bennie about how air flight introduced a new aspect to traveling.

He agreed and thought a minute. He said, "What about horses or should we try to get a truck going? It makes movement faster and, after this trip to the west, we are behind schedule if we want to make Hudson's Bay this year. On the other hand, knowing Protection exists gives us a new jumping off point for next year if we don't go. Tom and Vic can fly us home. I'm sure people will want to make the trip. The folks in Pintlala/Home Hull will want to be included. They sounded quite excited on the net."

"I think we may need to reevaluate our travel system. The planes change the equation considerably and using vehicles in connection with a plane might make the most sense. We could move faster once we got something to crank. Do you think we could learn to fly?"

"I don't see why not. We've learned a lot of other things. I'm game and I can tell from your voice that you're interested, too."

We drifted off after that until the smells of breakfast cooking woke us up. We cleaned up and went into the kitchen to find Jane and Judith kidding each other as they cooked. Jane saw us and smiled, "Some of the kids aren't up yet and the George's, Junior and Senior, are out caring for the animals with Andy. Megan should be over in a moment with their son. We'll get the rest of the kids up then and the noise will begin." She and Judith grinned at us and at each other. I was happy. It was like being at Poppa Jack and Mamma Shirley's home.

After breakfast, which was noisier though not bad, George and Jane asked to go with them into town. They had abbreviated office hours and it would give a chance for Protection to meet us and get to know some of Preservation through us. George said, "We will hold off on your history until tonight at the council meeting and supper. Everyone attends to discuss community needs and have a meal together. Meet and eat is one of our philosophies." He grinned and Bennie grinned back.

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