The following is Chapter Thirty of my story about a pair of free black siblings making the journey to California in 1849:
Chapter Thirty - Revelations
August 17, 1849
Our wagon party is now encamped in front of an interesting formation called "City of Rocks" by Mr. James for our final halt for the day. According to him, this spot has become a very popular with emigrants over the past eight or nine years. I can see why. It is a beautiful spot with the ground covered by sagebrush. In the near distance rose spirals of granite.
Following supper, some of the emigrants decided to explore the City of Rocks in small groups. Benjamin wanted me to remain behind at the campsite. A brief, yet rancorous argument between us convinced him that no one was about to stop me from joining the expedition. However, I suspect he did not express any further objections when he realized that I would be joining Mrs. Robbins, the Palmer brothers and Mr. James. It pains me to say, but Benjamin’s controlling behavior toward me has become increasingly intolerable . . . and quite frankly, a little frightening. A part of me wishes I had never made the decision to accompany him on this trip.
Fortunately, I managed to forget my latest quarrel with my brother, while my four companions and I explored the City of Rocks. This natural phenomenon proved to be more than just spirals of granite. The rocks also formed domes, steeples, piles and other different shapes. No wonder this area had acquired the moniker City of Rocks. This entire area resembled an old, abandoned city. Mr. James pointed out two rock forms that had spiraled upward from the ground. According to him, emigrants have recently begun calling them “Twin Sisters”. However, previous mountain men have also called them Steeple Rocks, Twin Mounds, and Twin Pyramids at Gate.
As we continued with our exploration of the City of Rocks, an alarming sound caught my attention. I drifted away from the group and found Miss Watkins standing between two rocks, doubled over. It did not take me very long to figure out that she was vomiting. Recalling the cholera that struck the Cross wagon over two months ago, I feared that the disease had once again, caught up with our wagon party. After we had returned to our wagon camp, I informed Mrs. Robbins of what I had witnessed. She proceeded to confront Miss Watkins, while I returned to the wagon I shared with Benjamin.
August 18, 1849
Since our departure, we have traveled a good seven miles south along the Raft River. I noticed that the wagon, which contained our New Orleans members is still with the party. I eventually learned from Mrs. Robbins that Miss Watkins was not suffering from any trail fever. Apparently, the soiled dove is expecting a child. We immediately knew the identity of the father. Two questions remained – whether Miss Watkins would be able to keep her pregnancy a secret before we reach California; and if Mr. Cross will be willing to make an honest woman of her.
The wagon party traveled a good eight hours before we set up camp for the evening. Following supper, I visited the Robbins wagon and sat a spell with Mrs. Robbins and Mrs. Gibson. We talked a great deal about Miss Watkins and Mr. Cross. After an hour or two, I returned to our wagon and discovered that Benjamin was missing. At first, I felt relieved. I was simply not in the mood to spend my last hour dealing with his dark moods. Before I could climbed inside the wagon, I saw Mademoiselle Guilbert returning to her traveling companions. A minute or two later, I spotted Benjamin returning to our wagon. And he had come from the same location as Miss Guilbert. Apparently, Miss Watkins is not the only soiled dove in our company freely offering her wares.