Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The First Thanksgiving - Part 1

The captain looked out at the horizon, pleading with the Creator for there to be land. His ship had been sailing for many many weeks, and his sailors and the settlers they carried were restless. They'd lost several to disease and malnutrition, something that couldn't be helped on such a long voyage into what might as well be the unknown, but had nevertheless began to undermine the moral of those aboard. All those many weeks ago, leaving home for the legendary land of the Pale, the so-called "New World," had seemed like a good alternative to having to face the consequences of his brother's faction loosing power in the capital. Now, however, with no end in sight to the Great Sea, his belief in the Land of the Sunrise seemed foolish.

Just then, a lookout cried out, "Land, Land!" The captain's gaze rescanned the horizon, squinting to see what the lookout did. And sure enough, there it was. A sliver of green, still vague in form, that was obviously NOT ocean. "Land!" cried out the captain, and soon shouts of excitement and thanksgiving were heard from all those aboard, as they strained to see what they hoped would be their new home.

A few hours later, with the sun setting behind them, they were upon the coast. It was green. Patches of forest came to the rocky coastline, which in places rose up into magnificent cliffs. The ship laden with hopeful explorers and pioneers, who gazed out at the foreign land they hoped to tame as their own, cruised along the coast for a time, before the crew spotted a beach they felt would be good to make a landing. They lowered the anchor, and the captain announced that in the morning, they would make landfall.

As dawn poked above the horizon, the crew moved about the deck, preparing the small row boats to be lowered into the water. It had been decided that the women and children aboard would not venture out yet, but wait a day or two until the warriors and secured an area for the settlers to camp until a more permanent location could be found to settle. The captain was among those going ashore that morning. He was excited. He was also nervous. He would be among the first of his people to set foot in the New World. There had been only one or two voyages here before this, and no one really know what this place was like. He looked out over the water as the row boat he was in crossed the distance from the ship to the beach. Things looked familiar, and yet different as well.


The captain looked into the roaring fire as he listened to the priest that had accompanied the landing party offer thanks to the Creator for the safe voyage and for providing them with this apparently bountiful land. Listening to the words of the prayers, some of which would be standard in any religious ceremony, felt like being back home again to the captain. A little bit of their culture transplanted halfway across the world to the land of the Pale. It was a fitting way to mark their first night ashore. The day had been successful. They'd explored the woods near the shore, and discovered a good-sized stream that had fresh water. They thought that they could find a good settlement spot the next day by following the stream. One of the men who'd come with them ashore had been an engineer back in the capital, and he was already laying out where the settlers could erect a small wharf and then cut a road to the stream and then follow that to wherever they decided to build the main settlement. The captain liked the idea, even if it might have seemed ambitious to some.

One of the warriors leaned over to talk to the captain after the priest had finished his prayers, asking, "Captain, do you think we will see any of the natives soon?"
"It is possible. From what the legends say, the land of the Pale Ones is vast, so we may have landed in an area where they do not live."
"Oh I hope not. I want to see a real live native savage from this land."
"And why would you want to do that?" the Captain asked.
"For one, so I can see for myself that they exist! And I also hope that they can lead us to the great piles of Gold that the legends say are here in the New World."
The Captain laughed. "You really believe the legends about the gold?"
The young warrior shook his head in the affirmative. "I think it's possible. Who knows what sort of strange and amazing things could be waiting for us here."
The captain grinned at the youth's enthusiasm. They'd all heard the legends of what existed here in the New World. Back a few hundred years before, at least according to legend, a small band of men and women came across the Great Sea from the New World to set up a settlement in a land neighboring the captain's own homeland. They claimed that more of them would follow, but they never did. Eventually, the small band was said to have intermarried with the local people. The Captain himself had seen a few envoys in the capital from that land, one of whom claimed lineage to those strangers from across the sea, and his complexion did seem lighter than that of his other countrymen. Belief in strange, pale men inhabiting this new land, but the idea of piles of gold laying around, that was asking too much of the imagination, in the Captain's opinion.


The men and women settlers, along with the warriors and most of the sailors, had been working for several weeks to clear the settlement site that they first landing party had selected. The site lay about half a mile from the shore, along the small stream that had been discovered. The brush had been cleared, and the first shelters had already been started and were in various phases of completion. The captain surveyed the scene. He was impressed with what they'd done. At a high point, a small hill that rose above the rest of the settler's village, men were working on the small gathering house that would also serve as a temple. A sacred fire had already been started and kept burning day and night by the priest and his two disciples. back down from the hill, more men were working on clearing a path that would lead to the sea and the small wharf that would be built there. Hopefully within a month, they could unload the rest of the supplies, and the ship would return across the Great Sea to the homeland. Lost in his thoughts for the future, the Captain failed to hear what someone shouted in his direction the first time. Coming back to the present, he looked about and heard, "Pale Ones! There are Pale Ones!"

That got his attention. The Captain whirled around in the direction of the shout, and saw one of the female settlers pointing to the tree-line on the opposite bank of the stream. And sure enough, there were a small band of men, in strange clothes pale. So the stories were true. This WAS the land of the Pale Ones......

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