This story is set in the second season.
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"Well, Mingo, what do you think? Will it hold?"
The Cherokee raised his hand to shield his eyes and looked at the curious contraption his friend Daniel had rigged. He had attached a tarp to two poles that rested against the house and then driven two others into the ground several feet away, forming a sort of lean-to, it seemed, for creatures the size of the Irish people's mythical leprechauns.
Mingo's dark eyebrows winged like twin ravens towards the feathers that decorated his black hair. "I believe it will hold, Daniel. But what...?" He leaned on his gun as he lifted one hand and passed it over the canvas, "What is it?"
His friend's eyes lit with that special fire that warned the one looking into them to beware. "Why, don't you know? And you bein' an educated man and all?"
Mingo sighed. He had been here before. "A classical education does not really prepare one for the...uh...rigors of the frontier, my friend. Take pity on me. What is it?"
Daniel laughed and tossed an apple to his son, Israel. The boy caught it out of the air and beamed. "Run inside and show our friend here what it is we're up to." As the white-haired boy did so, the long lanky man began to peel another apple and tossed the rind on to the tarp. "You know how Becky is always complaining about the animals coming up under the window where she cooks....nosing on the ground for the scraps she throws outside...."
"Just watch. Go ahead, Israel."
Mingo turned to watch and took a step back as his friend's son emptied the slop bucket out the window, tossing the contents onto the tarp. "And...this is an improvement because?"
Daniel chewed thoughtfully for a moment. "Well, the way I see it, we fill the tarp and then we tie the ends together and haul it off to the river. We can empty it there and then bring it back and fill it again- "
"Daniel Boone, whatever do you think you are doing? Have you lost your mind?" Boone's handsome red-headed wife came up behind them. She planted her hands on her hips and looked at the puddle of offal and bones, rinds and feathers laying just outside her kitchen window. "What is this?"
"Well, Becky. I was just explainin' to Mingo here..."
"Don't you know this will only attract animals? It's a breeding ground for vermin, and it will stink to high Heaven by the time the sun sets. Mingo, tell him...."
The dark-skinned native raised his hands and bowed graciously. He smiled, showing his dazzling white teeth. "As I was explaining to Daniel, there are certain gaps in a classical education...."
"Why the raccoons will be sitting on the sill eating my pies and washing their hands in that filth!" She blew out a breath of air and tucked a stray lock of madder hair behind her ear. "Men. Sometimes I wonder what God was thinking."
As Becky's tongue clicked against her teeth and she threw her hands up into the air, Mingo began to laugh. His friend ducked his head and then said softly as she disappeared into the house, "You should try it, you know."
Mingo wiped the corner of his eye and turned to look at him. "What? Creating a cesspool outside my lodge door?"
Daniel pushed his bangs back from his forehead and crossed his hands over his knee. He tilted his head towards the door through which Becky had vanished, still lecturing the air about the failings of the opposite sex. "No, marriage."
Mingo's fingers whitened imperceptibly where they encircled his gun. He drew a breath and sighed. "Not for me, Daniel. No. Marriage is not for me."
"Why not? Were women not a part of that classical education either?"
A faraway look entered Mingo's eyes. He sighed and then briefly touched his friend's shoulder. "I will see you tomorrow, Daniel. Tell Israel to be ready at dawn and I will take him hunting as I promised."
As he began to move away Daniel Boone stirred. He stood as tall as a tree with his hands planted on his narrow hips. "Mingo?"
His dark-haired friend turned back towards him. "Yes?"
"Are you okay?"
"I am fine. I will see you tomorrow."
A few minutes later Mingo paused at the top of the hill to watch Rebecca Boone reappear. She stood by her husband's side looking at the tarp and then playfully boxed his ears. He caught her about her waist and pulled her close, kissing her on the lips. A moment later they headed into the cabin together.
It was always so with his friend. Things were simple and direct. In his life, he had never known such bliss. Everything was gray, nothing was black or white. He always stood in the shadows and not in the clear light of day. There were complications and conundrums, puzzles and traps.
Had women been a part of his classical education? "Oh yes, Daniel," he murmured, "there was one. A goddess. But she is dead now."
As was his heart.
Continued in Chapter Two