A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 91: Packing Day Hell

Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran

Glory be, we had added a butcher as well. When the new guys showed up, Fritz turned out to have worked in his uncle’s butcher shop before he signed on with the army. He pulled a leather wrap out of his pack and sheepishly admitted, “I’ve been toting this around for the last eight years, hoping I’d get to use them again.” He unrolled the leather to reveal four beautifully maintained knives. “I can hunt too. Got me a rifle and I’m pretty good at stalking game.”

He also had a bubbly, if round, wife and three kids. Fritz was a pretty sedate fella, but his wife seemed to bounce with energy and the kids were pretty much the same. This should be humous to observe on a daily basis. I welcomed them all to the group and gave them a quick rundown on what was about to happen.

We had quite a crowd, all of a sudden. There were eight new families we just added to the town and we needed to get them all down to Rulo and settled in. The women and children, along with the personal essentials, would ride the boat down with me in the first boat trip. The boat would return to the fort and pick up any supplies we added today, as well as the remaining belongings. Captain Timmons would arrange storage for all of those goods until the boat returned. We would start traveling tomorrow, so they would need to pitch tents for tonight, if they had them. The rest we’d stuff into the tipis.

With that, I broke the men out and started to issue orders and hand out cash. Timmons and Isaiah would stay here and organize things from camp. The new first mate, Paddy, would head down to the boat with me and get things going down there. Timmons felt he would have enough crew for the planned runs, considering the trips were short and the river was easy this time of year.

I sent out a team of two to find our dairy cattle. We wanted at least one very young bull and a mix of milk cows. We didn’t need an old bull making our lives difficult right now. They were to keep an eye out for anything else we could get a good deal on, including mules or oxen.

Another team was sent to find our swine. Some bacon would be a mighty fine thing to have. Fritz led that team. He was also under orders to look for a sausage grinder; that brought a grin to everyone’s face. Pete looked at me in confusion and I told him to just wait until he tried it.

Timothy and Stephen agreed to locate and purchase tools. We had ten men now and we needed all of the wood tools and farming tools we could get our hands on.

I handed out cash and sent them on their way. Next came the women.

Of course, the women took longer to organize and dispatch. There was a lot more chatter and a whole lot of political maneuvering. Petalesharo sat off to the side and watched my frustration with a growing grin on his face. I allowed them to break up into teams and then gave them money and direction. The white women got one shopping list and the black women another. My women, with Mrs. Timmons, were the third team and they had special orders.

The youngest of the black women stayed back to ride herd on the children. This was going to be expensive.

Coffee was my first mandate - get the best they could find. After that, they needed kitchen supplies for each of their houses, if they could find them at a good deal. We needed stuff for baking, cheese making, and other implements like that, and, finally, cloth.

I warned them that we would be making a St. Louis trip this summer and would find a much better selection down there, at far better prices, so not to get carried away. The two teams were launched and it was down to my women and Mrs. Timmons.

I sent them for dresses, fabric, lace, and the frilly things. They got the most money but each was to do their best to get a good dress.

I finally sat down with Pete, Timmons, and Isaiah and just sighed loudly, bringing laughter from all. Isaiah refilled my coffee and I lit a cigarette. I had time for a break, then it was off to the fort and the dock. After that, it was back here to finalize major purchases and organize our travel teams for tomorrow. This day was highly important, but frustrating to live through. As the head count went up, I’d need to add some structure to our burgeoning group.

I think the last of the bourbon was in order for tonight.

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