swimmer, unusual for the times, and he taught me well. But of all the traits of Balthus, I think I most enjoyed his boundless curiosity. It led us off on many adventures together.Jacob was a great deal like Father, inheriting from him the sturdy, serious, hard-working attitude of our Dutchlineage. He was short and stocky, with powerful arms, dark eyes, and comic shaggy eyebrows. Isaac, on the other hand, was tall and fair, with long sandy-colored hair and a quick smile. I suppose I was something between the twoof them, tall for my age like Isaac, but with Jacob’s dark eyes and hair.Just now Father and Jacob were standing next to the corral, eyeing the horses we would take. The first leg of our tripwould be by horse and wagon from our temporary home here in Harford County, Maryland, to Baltimore. Fromthere we would catch a sloop to New Amsterdam [
now called New York City
], then a boat up the Hudson River toTarrrytown, then overland by horseback to Ft. Decker, New Jersey, then down the Delaware River by pole boat towhatever was left of our former homes in Dansbury.At the time I thought myself a good horseman. I had been riding for several years, ever since Father first put me onthe back of an old, slow sorrel and taught me to ride. But I had never been on a sailing ship before, and I had heardmany stories of the dreaded sea-sickness.“Hey, there, boy,” Jacob said when I first walked out. “Did ye sleep well?” He winked when he said it.“In truth I think I but barely slept, as excited as I was,” I replied. “Where is Balthus?”“I think the old slug is still in bed,” said Jacob. “Go roust him out, will ye? It is past time he’s up and ready.”I trotted back to the house. After fleeing the Indians eight years ago, we had moved in with my Mother’s cousins,the VanEttens, here in the Maryland countryside. Our stay was always intended to be temporary; therefore thesleeping arrangements were a bit haphazard. There were always more children than beds, even two to a bed, so thelast few children to bed at night would end up on the floor with other late-nighters. Balthus was always one of these.But when I got to the room he shared with several others, he was already up and clothed.“Come on, Balthus, let’s go,” I urged. I knew he was excited as me. “Jacob wants you at the corral.”We raced outside. It seemed whenever we were together, we raced. Although Balthus was older than me, I wasusually faster, a fact I never let him forget. I easily beat him to the corral.“Well, lads, glad to see ye’ve got so much spunk,” Father grinned at us. “Let’s see you use that energy to someadvantage. Start loading the wagon there. Jacob will direct you. Put the boxes in first and the bags on top. I’ll tend tothe horses.”“Yes, sir,” Balthus and I said together. We picked up the tongue of the 4-wheel wagon to pull it over to the porchwhere the boxes and bags were stacked. Even this became a game as we pretended we were horses harnessed to thewagon, competing to see who would be the most powerful. Laughing at the game, Jacob jumped on the back of thewagon and we carried him across the foreyard to the porch.The three of us made short work of the loading, just finishing when my half-sister Helena called us for breakfast.With so many people, mealtime was a loud and raucous affair, but this morning outdid them all. Everyone talked atonce as we sat down at the long family table. At the head of the table, Father quietly cleared his throat and thetableside noise hushed instantly. He bent his head and offered the morning prayer.“Dear Lord, we humbly ask your blessings on this house and everyone in it. We ask for your protection as weembark on a perilous journey. We ask you to watch over those who are staying behind. Give us comfort and aid asyou see fit. Help each of us to be the equal of the task you have set before us. When you are ready, receive us intoyour loving arms. Amen.”Amen.Then with a rush, the noise and excitement started all over again. After a tumultuous breakfast, everyone scrambledout in front of the house. Father brought out two horses and harnessed them to the wagon; my half-brothers Phillipand Petrus (or Peter, as the girls called him) brought out three riding horses, saddled and ready. Everyone else stoodaround us in an excited, anxious circle. Cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and of course Mother. Itmade quite a noisy crowd.