Pelo and Pooca -- a story of love.
| The setting sun illuminated the vast ocean with a soft orange glow. While I walked out closer to the water to watch the entrancing scene, the fine, pale sand massaged my feet. The beach was much quieter at this time of day. Most of the people from my village had already gone home to enjoy dinner time with their families. I want to have a family someday. I want to marry Pelo more than I ever wanted anything in my whole world. I knew that I loved him since the time we were small children. I slowly sat down, not caring that the sand was on my pants. I took in a deep breath of the sweet, salty sea air, and smiled. The best part about loving Pelo is that he loves me too. That thought filled every inch of my body with strength to undertake the quest that I must begin tomorrow.
Pelo’s father, the chief of our village, will not allow his son to marry me until I prove myself to be a very important woman in our community. He has decided that he will agree to the wedding if I venture to the new world to bring back supplies for our medicine man. I will do this. I love Pelo unconditionally. If this is what it takes to prove that to his father, so be it.
My head sank lower as my thoughts switched to that of my parents. I wish they were still alive to see me off on this task. They would be so proud of me. They have been on many such adventures. My father was the highly admired fisherman of our village. He and my mom often took trips to other lands. They would still be doing so today if it wasn’t for a tragic accident. They were at sea with a group of others from our village when a sudden storm took them by surprise. They left me with a well structured hut, trunks of items from other lands, their fine boat, and the knowledge of how to use it. I was only twelve when they died, but I think I did alright by myself. Pelo was always my best friend through it all, and now it’s time for us to wed.
I stood up, brushed the sand off of my legs, and began my walk home to prepare a trunk for my morning trip. The people of the village gave me blankets and trinkets to trade. Along with those, I will pack some opals and gems. It is a time of ‘gold rush’ in California, and they will welcome these gems to make jewelry. Pelo used his creativity to fashion wheels on the trunk for my convenience. Pelo is the thoughtful kind. I love him so much.
Dawn broke at last, and I never felt more ready to go. I folded one of my mother’s fine dresses and added it to a sack of personal items. The dress would be perfect for where I was going. The honey colored fabric was soft and light to the touch. Though the lacey, puffed sleeve top was elegant, the long and flowing bottom was more so. I liked the way it gently swayed when I moved and spun when I turned. I would be respected as a lady.
“Pooca, my love, are you ready to go?” Pelo was here with two of our good friends to see me off. I raced into his arms for a strong hug.
“I’m ready, and I’m looking forward to it.” I said as I gazed into his green eyes. Those eyes revealed that while he was happy to have me in his arms, he was also nervous about having me leave. “I’ll be alright. Really.” I said in an assuring tone.
“Is this what you’re taking?” Rorke said as he and Tau grabbed the trunk and sack that were obvious baggage. They didn’t really expect a reply.
“I love you.” Pelo whispered and softly kissed my head before he went over to our two friends. “Let me give you a hand with that.” Pelo exclaimed excitedly as he took the other side of the trunk from Rorke, leaving Tau with the sack.
“I guess pulling it on those wheels isn’t a very macho thing.” I teased with a wink.
“We wouldn’t get the real feel of helping if we did it like that.” Pelo replied in a joking way.
Outside, the honeysuckle-scented air was already warm. It was going to be a beautiful day for traveling. We didn’t have far to walk to the docks, but I savored every minute by looking at things as if for the first time. I knew that this excursion would be a safe one and I would be back soon, but I still wanted to remember every detail while I was gone. I watched a bluebird family enjoying their breakfast at old man Zeller’s birdhouse. Zoe’s big furry cat paused by a coconut palm for a long morning stretch. A couple of brightly colored butterflies waltzed by in morning song. The best of ‘mind’s painted pictures’ would be of my friends by my side before my trip. …And, of course, I would always picture Pelo’s loving smile.
As we approached the dock, we were all surprised at the sight that awaited us there. It was the chief with two of his best servants. The servants were dressed in clothing typical of the new world, and they had baggage with them. “Father, I don’t understand…” Pelo said as he tenderly placed the trunk on the dock.
The chief eased a hand on his son’s shoulder. “What’s there to understand my son? Did you think I would send my future daughter-in-law on a task without an escort?” The chief smiled and reached for my shoulder. His smile held firm as he stared into my face for a few moments. I could tell that he was about to speak. “Sweet Pooca, I feel as though you are already my daughter. I would not have considered anyone else but you for my son to marry. You are a very strong girl – like your parents were. They were good people and will never be forgotten at our village. I know that they would have been proud of what you are about to do.” His gentle smile never faded as he removed a necklace from his own neck. He then placed it around my neck. “Please wear this. It was my wife’s. I wore it every day after she died, and now I want it to belong to you. I know that she would have wanted you to have it.” He gestured toward the servants. “Matt and Zane will accompany you on your journey. Be well my child.” He said as he kissed me on the cheek.
Matt and Zane had placed all of the baggage into the boat while we were talking. It was now time to leave. I gave Pelo one last hug. Was that a tear in his eye? “I’ll be back soon my sweet.” I said as I stepped toward the boat. “So long Rorke. Tau. Thank you chief.” I waved to them all, and went onto the boat. The servants readied the boat to go, and I positioned myself to steer it. “I’ll be back soon!” I shouted one more time, more to Pelo than the others. We were on our way.
The journey was long, but I couldn’t have asked for better weather. The company was great too. Matt and Zane were skilled in both conversation and sea faring skills. I told them everything that I knew about the new world. They listened attentively, and they enthusiastically asked questions. My knowledge was plentiful, as I make it a hobby of studying the strange new land. We would be landing in California near San Francisco. Gold was discovered there in 1848. Now, a year later, towns appeared as more people arrived in that area. The nation’s president, James Polk, made it clear that everyone is welcome. People from places such as Mexico and China have gone there to find work. I’ll have no problem finding medicines and things for our village.
“Pooca, look over there!” Zane expressed his excitement at seeing the land of the new world for the first time. He was actually jumping up and down as he pointed, and his frenzied state was contagious. Matt leaped over and spun me around, and I think I shouted an exclamation that sounded like a shrill scream. We held each other and stared in awe for a few moments, and then I fled to the stairs. “I’m going below to change into my dress.” I said while I ran.
There were three rooms below, which were two cabins and a storage room. The storage room looked empty now, but I envisioned all of the items that would soon fill it up. I was thrilled at finally arriving at the destination. The only thing missing was my beloved Pelo to share this moment with. I can hardly wait to let him know about all the details. I slid on my dress while I daydreamed and looked into the mirror, gasping at how much I looked like a lady. As quickly as I could, I grabbed my handbag and ran to rejoin my two escorts.
My companions were already in the process of docking the boat. I appreciated their skills because it was less for me to do. The double-look that each one of them took in my direction assured me that they were as surprised as I was about how I looked in the dress. They were both leaning over the side to secure the boat with ropes, which meant that the time to step foot onto the new world came at last.
Matt leaped out first to give me a hand onto the dock. I awkwardly held all of the material from the dress as I stepped off, and then I watched Matt board the boat again to help Zane carry the trunk. “Would you like a carriage Miss?” A voice from behind slightly startled me.
I turned to see the most beautiful boy I had ever seen. He couldn’t have been more than thirteen years old, but he was already strikingly handsome. Up until this moment, I had only heard of people with blond hair described in books. Those descriptions didn’t do justice to the sight that I now beheld. His yellow locks shined like a sunflower on a bright summer’s day, only rivaled by his deep blue eyes. Those eyes sparkled like a clear blue sky illuminated by the rays of the sun. I didn’t realize that I was staring until he spoke again. “Is everything alright Miss? If you need a guide, I am for hire, along with my horses and carriage.
“Yes. Please. A carriage is a fine idea. My companions and I would need to visit the local trade center.” I gestured over to Zane and Matt, who were setting the trunk on the dock.
“I’m Patrick Ma’am.” The boy said with a slight nod of his head. “I can take you there. It’s over that way.”
My eyes widened and followed the line of direction beyond the dock where the boy pointed. I was amazed at how incredible California looked. Along red-bricked sidewalks were ladies with dainty parasols and frilly bonnets, and men with sacks of gold and pick axes. Buildings were all in a row, and streetlamps lined the avenue. My emotions were torn between apprehension and excitement. No matter what happens, I will be strong…for Pelo. I brushed my fingers across the necklace that was around my neck. My attention then focused back to the boy. “My name is Pooca. This is Zane and Matt.” I said, raising my hand slightly toward my escorts.
Patrick stepped forward without hesitation to shake their hands. Matt and Zane smiled and politely shook his hand, but I could tell from their nervous laughter that they were feeling just as jittery about being here as I was. It’s always scary to be in such a strange place for the first time. Probably the best thing that could have happened to us was that we arrived when Patrick was on the dock.
“Do you need a hand carrying that?” Patrick asked about the trunk.
“No, thanks.” Zane said trying to stifle a chuckle. “It’s on wheels.” Zane began to pull the trunk along, almost in a way that resembled showing off. Zane was smiling the whole time in enjoyment.
“Whoa! No way! That’s awesome!” The boy exclaimed with amazement. “You should sell that at the trade center.” Patrick winked.
We walked for a few moments, and then Patrick started talking again. “Many people come to these parts from all over to find gold, so my uncle lets me use his carriage to help them with their goods. He doesn’t need the carriage most of the time because he is searching for the nuggets too, and I get to make a lot of money as a guide.” The boy’s smile could command an army of angels. We approached the carriage, and Zane put the trunk in the back.
“There’s room for storage on the top of the carriage too, if you decide to trade for large items. The three of you will fit inside comfortably, and I will sit in front to steer the horses.” Patrick instructed as he climbed up to his seat and grabbed the reins. I paused to stroke the neck of one of the magnificent animals before I got inside. I wished my Pelo could be here to see the wonder of these horses with me. There will be much to tell him when I return. Matt and Zane followed me into the carriage. They sort of looked as though they wanted to touch the horses too, but were afraid.
The ride to the trade center was short, but we were amused at all we saw along the way. A lady walked a finely groomed dog on a leash. It almost looked as though its hair was made of very large cotton balls. Little children jumped rope and played with marbles. I must be sure to bring toys like this home to the children of my village.
The carriage soon stopped at a large building. In front were a few steps, but they actually spanned the whole width of the building. Many people were coming in and out, but somehow it all seemed very normal. Patrick hitched the horses to one of the many posts along the street, and we all climbed out to join him. Zane seemed thunderstruck for a few seconds as he stared at the big building, but then he remembered that he needed to get the trunk. With the trunk on the ground, we were ready to go in. “I’ll wait out here until you’re ready to go again.” Patrick assured us in his kind and enthusiastic voice.
The three of us entered the trade center with the trunk. The inside of the building was just as grand as the outside. The floor was a vast open space of black and white stone. I thought it might be marble, but I wasn’t really sure. The walls were decorated with elegant hand crafted carvings of flowers and animals. We paused at the entrance and took it all in, and then I motioned for Matt and Zane to follow me over to one of the counters.
“Excuse me sir.” I began as I spoke to the old gentleman at the counter. “We brought a trunk of items to trade for currency.”
The man watched as Zane carefully placed the trunk on the large counter. Matt then helped Zane unpack the items. Among what came out of the trunk were several shawls, small statues, jewelry, and gems of all kinds. While they were busy, the man started a conversation. “Are you Native Americans?” He asked, gazing at our shiny black hair.
“No sir. We’re not from here. In fact, we’re from far away.” I informed him with a polite smile.
“Oh! You traveled the long and hard journey of the Oregon Trail! We get many people in here that came from that way. Of course, not all of them actually make it to California. Let’s see what you have here.” The man seemed to say it all in one breath, and then went into a deep concentration as he examined our objects.
Zane and Matt looked at each other in a confused way, and then looked at me. I explained to the man. “No, we traveled a long journey by way of the sea. We are from a tiny village across the ocean.”
“Is that so? Yes, the Oregon Trail is difficult for everyone.” He half mumbled as he examined one of the opal gems.
I realized that he was no longer really listening to anything I was saying, since he was now focused on the items. The only sounds for the next few minutes were ‘hmmms’ and ‘ahhhhs’ from the man. Finally, the man looked at us in a cheery way, and announced that he decided on a price. “I will give you six hundred dollars for all of this. That is a more than fair price, but that’s what I base my good reputation on. I get many repeat customers, you know.”
“Very well. I will make that deal.” I replied with the same cheer. I was then a little startled to see him extend his hand to me. After a strong handshake, the man opened a cash box and took out the money.
I took the money from the man, and thanked him. He had more to say. “No. Thank you for your business. Be sure to come back again.”
I headed for the exit along with my escorts. Patrick was there as promised. He was scraping a piece of wood with a small pocket knife. He closed up the knife and pushed the thick yellow locks of hair away from his face when he heard Zane and I talking. Now his bright smile was in full view. “How’d you make out in there?” Patrick asked eager to know. He is such a good kid, and it worked out well to have him for our guide. I hope that Pelo and I will have a son like him someday.
“We did well. So far, so good. Our next stop should be to a pharmacy to buy medical supplies.” I said confidently.
“I’m sorry Miss Pooca. We don’t have a real pharmacy in this town, but the general store sells all kinds of medical supplies. I hope that will do for you.” Patrick stated apologetically.
“That will do just fine, Patrick. I also wanted to get goods for my village, and gifts for my beloved and his father. Now I can buy everything all in the same place. Let’s go!” I could hardly conceal the excitement in my voice. I knew that the shopping part of this adventure would be fun.
We all took our seats in the carriage, and the fine horses pulled us to our destination. Along the way, we passed a lovely inn. I told Matt and Zane that we could stay there tonight, rather than on the boat. That way we could get decent meals, baths, and a well needed rest before the journey back home in the morning. Matt made a big show of smelling the aroma of fresh baked bread that was coming from an open window at the inn, and agreed to my plan whole-heartedly.
We rode on a little longer, and Patrick stopped the horses again. “This is the place.” He said after he climbed off the carriage. He extended his hand to help me out. I think I was actually getting the hang of gathering all of the flowing material from my dress. Patrick continued speaking. “I’ll wait outside again. When I see you start to bring things out, I’ll come in and help to carry.”
Zane, Matt and I stood there looking at the building again for a moment before we went in. It was much plainer looking then the other building, but just as big. In fact, it might have been even bigger than the trade building. “Alright, let’s go in.” I beckoned to my still awe-struck companions.
Once inside, I felt as though I walked into a dream. There were racks and counters filled with all different kinds of goods throughout the store. I noticed a red and white oval shaped sign in the back with the words ‘medical supplies’ on it, so we went there first.
“Can I help you?” A pretty young lady questioned in a friendly voice.
“Hello. We are planning to buy many items in your store, and I guess we will choose medical supplies first.” I said shyly.
“Sure. Make yourselves right at home, and let me know if I can help you in any way. You can place the items you wish to purchase on this counter as you pick them out.” The lady pointed to a nearby empty counter.
“Thank you.” I replied with a smile, and began choosing items. Most of the medical items were on shelves along a wall. We quickly worked out a system, where I picked out something, and either Zane or Matt would walk it over to the counter. The lady was adding and packing the things up as they were brought to her. I was happy to find cases of medicines to relieve pain and other ailments. Those would be a big help to my people. I also took a couple of cases of herbal medicines. We have plenty of herbal medicines in our village, but these were different. I thought they would be good to have. I added sacks of cotton to our items, as well as many kinds of bandages. Safety pins were something that we didn’t have in our village, so I sent Matt to the counter with many of those. I handed Zane a couple of pairs of crutches, and asked him to come back for a few walking canes. These canes were made of smooth cherry wood, and trimmed with a gold band. That would be a fashionable change from a tree branch, which men like old man Zeller used.
I gathered up a few more medical supplies when I realized that the counter was getting too full. I asked the lady if it might be a good idea for Zane and Matt to carry those items out to the carriage before I shop for any more. She agreed, saying that she had been adding them up as they were brought over. Patrick was in to help as soon as he saw Matt carry the first item out. I set out to find gifts for the love of my life.
It didn’t take long at all to find the right gifts. I found a spyglass only a few feet away. This instrument would allow Pelo to see great distances as though they were up close. I took two, figuring that the chief would also like one. Not too far away from there was an area of prism-style paper weights. I held one up to the light, and the many facets shined with wondrous rainbow colors. I grabbed up two of those as well. My arms started to get full, so I brought the items over to the check out counter.
I moved on to another part of the store, and found sacks of glass marbles. Each sack came with instructions about how to play the game. The children would be very happy to get these. I remembered that I also wanted to get them jumping ropes, so I found some of those too. I found some puppets that came from Mexico and kites that came from China, and I grabbed those too. By now, Zane was back to rescue my packed up arms. …Just in time too, because I didn’t have a clue how I would carry bouncing balls without help.
I made my way to the candy area of the store. I chose boxes of chewing gum, rock candy, and peppermints. Next to the candy were other foods, so I picked out some items such as spices before I moved on to the rest of the store.
The rest of the shopping seemed to go faster. I handed Matt a few metal frying pans and pots. Zane walked by, so I stopped him to carry a case of metal forks, spoons and knives. It took both Zane and Matt to carry a very large box of rubber boots. I carried over some fancy gardening gloves and soaps.
After a few more items, I felt that we were done. I grabbed one last item, which was a picture book of American birds. I couldn’t resist it, because it had a picture of an enchanting Flamingo on the cover. This would also make a nice gift for Pelo. I paid the lady and I had one hundred and fifty dollars left over. The fee at the inn shouldn’t cost a lot, so I would surprise Patrick by giving him whatever was left.
The men worked swiftly to pack up the carriage with the boxes. Patrick was right when he said that there was lots of room for items on the top of the carriage. Zane and I were dropped off to register at the inn, while Patrick and Matt locked up the boxes into the storage room on the boat. When the two returned to the inn, Patrick agreed to come back early in the morning to bring us to the boat.
Morning came at last. The adventure worked out well with everything going smoothly, but it was almost unbearable to be away from Pelo for so long. Zane and Matt joked that they would have liked to stay at the inn for a few more days. I don’t believe that any of us had ever eaten so much food before. We had several kinds of breads, meats, and vegetables for dinner last night, and I truly think that we ate just as much for breakfast this morning. In addition, the people here were all very friendly.
As soon as we stepped outside, we noticed that Patrick was already there waiting for us. He's really a fine boy, and I know that he will grow into an incredible man someday in the not too distant future. We exchanged our ‘good-mornings’, and climbed into the carriage.
The town was much less busy to look at in the morning. Several people were sweeping in front of their stores and houses. Even the clothes they worked in looked charming to me. I saw a young couple walking by holding hands. I could tell from the twinkle in their eyes and the happiness in their smiles that they were very much in love. I thought of Pelo. Soon I would be back home to him, and soon after that we would be married. That is why I’m here. I did this all for him, but I was also looking forward to the trip. The adventure is what dreams are made of, and the people of my village will love the much needed supplies. My thoughts came back to the familiar sight of the boat dock. Our boat was peacefully waiting for us.
We climbed out of the carriage and we all shook Patrick’s hand. I gave him all of the money that was left, and he was so happy that he lunged up to me and gave me a big hug. I stepped onto the boat, while my companions untied it. A couple of birds landed on the dock to sing a song of good-bye as we began the journey back. Patrick stood there waving and smiling.
We were on our way home. The dock seemed to be getting smaller and smaller until I could barely see it any more. I gazed out at the horizon. The sky was so blue and clear, dotted with a small, fluffy white cloud here and there. A neat line separated the majestic sky from the immense ocean. The green water glistened and the sea birds sang as I daydreamed about Pelo. He was now all that I could think about. I would soon be back to Pelo at last.