Woodlawn: All Grown Up
Two red-headed adults sat on a porch,
occasionally talking to each other, but mostly keeping an eye on
the man's children as they played around the
"Sister," Tom whispered
slyly as he watched his daughter toddle towards them, "I do
believe we've got a miniature Caddie Woodlawn running
Caddie nodded as her
youngest niece climbed up onto her lap. Even at four years,
Heather was in continuous motion, scaling low branches and
rough-housing with her older siblings.
"She's just like you," he
continued affectionately tugging lightly on a strand of her hair,
"from the top of her fiery-haired head," he then tickled the
child's toes and finished, "to the bottom of her dirty, bare
"Ah," Caddie agreed and
brought a squealing Heather up to kiss her chubby cheeks, "Now I
understand Mother's struggles with me," she added with a sly
Her brother chuckled as he
nodded. "She has been begging us to wear pants as you do, but
neither Katie nor Mother would ever have that."
Caddie sighed as she put
her niece down. "They are so much less hassle than skirts. I wish
Mother would have let me wear them when I was
"Speaking of Mother," Tom
said as he scratched his beard, "she will be here later
"Gam?" Heather asked
excitedly and started to toddle around faster.
"Yes, Hettie," her father
said with a small smile.
The girl put her hands on her
hips and said sternly, "I not Aun' Hettie, I
Tom laughed at her
indignation and rose from his chair. "I know that little one," he
told her as he ruffled her pretty hair and went
As soon as her father
disappeared into the house, Heather slid down from Caddie's lap.
"Aun' Caddie," she whispered as she tugged on her aunt's loose
pants, "I ride Pat? P'ease?"
Caddie sighed. Patty had an
ornery streak identical to her sire's . Like Pete, she had a
knack for scraping her riders off if they weren't paying
attention. "No, dear, Patty's too wild for you." She smiled in
amusement as the girl's pretty face turned into an ugly
"Can ride," she insisted
"No," Caddie firmly asserted and took
the girl's hand. "But you can ride Bell with me, if would you
Heather's face grew
thoughtful, as if contemplating on whether or not she would
settle for her aunt's deal. Finally, her face brightened a
fraction and she nodded. Riding with her favorite aunt was
preferable to not being able to ride what-so-ever.
Caddie lead the red-headed
child to the stables and let her pet the horse as she saddled
"Purty," Heather cooed,
"Isn't she?" Caddie swung the
blanket and saddle over the animal's back and cinched the girth.
Next, she eased the bit into her mouth and the rest of the bridle
over her ears. Once that was done, she tossed the reigns towards
the saddle and motioned Heather follow her outside.
"Up you go," she said as she
hoisted the small girl up into the saddle. Her little legs
bounced up and down with excitement. "Now don't bounce your
feet," Caddie warned her mildly, "she might think you're telling
her to giddyup."
Heather obeyed, but still squirmed
"Watch out, now," her aunt
called as she swung herself onto the horse's back.
Heather turned to grin at
her aunt. "We go now?" she asked gleefully.
"Where to?" Caddie asked her
kindly. "To the field? Or the river?"
"In'uns!" Heather cried
suddenly with a huge grin. "See In'un John!"
Caddie smiled. "Indian
John?" The girl nodded ferverently. Indian John was an old friend
of the family, and Caddie had known her since she was very young.
"That settles it," she said and steered Bell in the direction of
the Indian settlement.
The ride across the river
only took a little while, and they were at the camp before too
long. The Indian dogs began to bark at them, as they did every
time they visited. Within minutes, they were surrounded by dogs
and Indian children, chattering and making much
The girls dismounted and
greeted the noisy boys and girls, Heather occasionally swatting
at the ones that tugged on her red hair.
"Be kind, Heather," Caddie
scolded her lightly, allowing the children to pet her own hair.
"They just think our hair is pretty, that's all."
"Don't like," the girl
replied grumpily, trying to hide behind Caddie.
"Missee Red Hair," a deep
voice called out joyously.
Caddie looked up and set her
eyes on an Indian man with long, greying braid. A smile split her
face. "Indian John!" She made her way through the curious
children and embraced him gently, knowing he was neither as
strong nor young as he had been, but he squeezed her with his
"How you do?" the man asked
"Fine, just fine," Caddie
replied. "You remember Heather, don't you?" she asked as she
motioned to her niece, who was overwhelmed by
Indian John nodded as a
smile spread across his wrinkly face. "Little Missee Red Hair,"
he acknowledged affectionately. He spoke suddenly in his own
language, and the Indian children backed away from the little
red-haired girl. Indian John walked over to the girl, who was
clinging to Bell's leg, and crouched down. "Hello."
Heather's red, angry face
smoothed and transitioned into a much nicer one. She smiled as
Indian John spread his arms for a hug. When she closed the
distance between them, he grabbed her and swung her into the air,
causing her to produce a squeal of joy.
"Little Missee Red Hair, you
big." Indian John grinned as he set her down gingerly. "Last day
I seen you, you papoose."
She grinned and proudly
crowed, "I four now."
"Four," he repeated and
shook his head in disbelief. "Time move quick."
"It sure does," Caddie
echoed. "It seems like just last year Tom and Warren and I were
running around here."
Indian John sighed quietly
and looked to them with a renewed energy. "You see John
"Of course," Caddie said
immediately. "Did your daughter have her baby?"
He nodded and beckoned a
small child to him. He spoke to her in their language and she
went running off toward one of the many tents. From the tent came
the little girl and a woman holding an infant.
"Oh," Caddie cooed as they
neared. "Isn't he a little dear?"
"Deer?" Heather asked in
confusion as she struggled to see.
"No," Caddie chuckled and
picked her up so she could see, "not a deer. Dear, like what your
father calls your mother."
"Oh," she replied simply.
Indian John laid a hand on
the babe. "John daughter papoose." He then laid his hand on the
woman. "John daughter."
"How do you do?" Caddie asked
politely. "It's been quiet a while since we saw each other
The woman studied her
curiously and nodded slowly. "Long time," she said in a soft
voice. "I have," she paused, searching for the right words, then
continued, "two boy, one girl." She looked down at her baby.
Indian John had taught his
family, and whoever wanted to learn, the English that he knew.
The settlers took it as a sign of good intentions.
"Oh!" Caddie said suddenly,
"I'm so sorry, John. My mother is coming, and we have to wash up
before she gets here," she explained as she gave the adults a
quick embrace and stroked the babe's face. "Good-bye!" She
hurried Heather over to the horse, children streaming after
them, and mounted.
"Good-bye, Misse Red Hair,"
Indian John said with a smile. "And Little Missee Red Hair." He
waved as the disappeared into the woods.
They made haste across the
river and back to the farm, passing a beaver near the shore of
"Look there," Caddie
whispered and pointed to the plump animal. She slowed her horse
to a stop so they could spy on the beaver without frightening
Heather squirmed in her
seat, but she didn't make a sound. She turned around and beamed
at her aunt, thinking of what her siblings would say when she
told them she not only went to visit Indian John, but she saw a
beautiful beaver as well!
Caddie slowly eased Bell
into a walk and continued on their way home. She slowed as they
neared the house.
"They're here!" a boy cried
Caddie looked up to see a
child with sweaty, dark hair--her nephew, William--sprinting
He stopped close-by.
"Grandpa is here!" Will panted and dragged a hand across his
face. "With Grandma, too." Will beamed. "Grandpa brought clocks
Will, being a fine young man
of eleven-and-a-half, had recently began helping his grandfather
in fixing the assortments of clocks that neighbors brought to
him. He was gaining experience and, therefore, getting more
talented with his tools.
"Wonderful," Caddie replied.
"Go tell your parents."
The boy nodded and sprinted
off into the house. Sure enough, not a moment after he was out of
sight, a sturdy brown horse could be seen clopping down the dirt
driveway, followed by a small carriage carrying two
"We'd better wash up right
quick," Caddie said and hurried to the stables. She dismounted
and set Heather on the ground. "Go along, girl. Wash your hands
and face, hurry now."
Richard, the farmhand,
peeked over a neighboring stall. "Should I take care of that,
ma'am?" he asked kindly.
"Oh," Caddie sighed, "yes,
thank you Richard." She handed him the reigns and sprinted off to
wash the sweat and grime off of her body and slip on a skirt for
her mother's sake. Unfortunately, both her mother and father had
already pulled up in front of the house.
"Caddie," Mr. Woodlawn
grinned and climbed down from the carriage, spreading his arms
when his feet were on the ground.
Caddie went quickly into
his embrace and chuckled when he kissed the tip of her nose.
"Nice to see you, Father."
"Oh Caddie," the other
passenger chided, "Men's trousers?" Mrs. Woodlawn shook her head.
"As if you weren't unlady-like enough." Mr. Woodlawn hurried over
to help her down.
Caddie sighed and gave her
mother a hug. "It's nice to see you as well,
"I do enjoy seeing you,"
the older lady assured her, "but why do you have to wear those
abominations around?" She tsked and added, "People will think you
an uncouth savage."
Caddie rolled her eyes
and patiently replied, "I only wear breeches at home, not to
town." She added, "And I was on my way to wash up."
Mrs. Woodlawn sighed and
turned to her eldest son, who had just come out of the house with
his wife. "Tom, dear, how are you? And Katie? Are you feeling
better? How are the children?"
Caddie watched in
amusement as her mother went from person to person, like a bee
going from flower to flower.
"Are Clara and Hettie
coming?" Caddie asked her father. "And Warren?"
"Well," he replied,
"Warren will be here tomorrow, but Hettie won't be here until the
day after. Clara and her husband don't plan to come at all, with
her just having her baby."
Caddie nodded and
smiled. "Then we shall visit them instead."
He nodded and followed
the rest of his family inside. Caddie stayed.
Growing up isn't as
bad as I thought it would be, she mused as she breathed in
the clean air. You can still have as much fun as you did when
you were a child, you just have to find different ways to. And,
of course, you have more freedom to do what you
With that last thought,
she climbed the stairs and joined her family