Chapter 1. Shenandoah Valley 1754
The large brown trout splashed vigorously trying to slip off the golden haired boy's hook. Axel hauled the line in steadily, hand over hand, his slender arms moving rhythmically to bring the fish to shore. This would make three that day. He would return to his master with three fat tasty fish to grace their humble table. Old Man MacCrae might be a crusty old codger but he treated Axel well enough, better than he was obliged to treat an indentured servant. An orphan and bound into service at fourteen for seven years, Axel still had nearly four years to go before he would be free to pursue his dream and travel over the western mountains.
Despite his Dutch surname, Axel Van Zorn was of German extraction, from a family of the Shenandoah 'Deitch' (sic) who, with the Scots-Irish, had settled the fertile valley between the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountains twenty odd years earlier in the 1730s. Axel was a comely lad, short and slender and pretty as a girl with delicate features, high cheekbones, large green eyes and a blond thatch on top. He had an infectious sense of humor that had finally won over his curmudgeonly master who now treated the boy more like a favorite nephew than a servant boy. As a thrifty Scot he did not indulge the boy in idleness, never that, but if Axel wanted to catch some fish on a fine summer's day when there was not that much to do around the farm except watch the corn grow, why not?
The MacCrae farm was on the western side of the valley, just a little south of the Massanutten Range which split the Shenandoah valley in two. The countryside was beautiful with low wooded mountains, scattered agricultural villages with their grist mills and country stores, fields, copses of trees, babbling brooks, and quiet pools. The population lived by mixed subsistence farming: cereals, livestock, apples, flax, hemp, potatoes. The region was largely self-sufficient with its own craftsmen such as weavers, bakers, carpenters, masons and brick makers, millers and coopers.
The boy had skipped off happily, barefoot and in just breeches without a shirt. His favorite fishing spot was the upper pool of a tributary stream of the Shenandoah River. The lower pool was his swimming hole. Throwing off his pants, Axel plunged into the pool for a swim. At home in the water, the boy reveled in his mastery of the alien element, enjoying the feel of the cool water on his bare skin on a hot day. He bent at the waist and jack knifed into a surface dive, his pert rump breaking the surface briefly before he plunged to the bottom to retrieve a bit of treasure, a shiny stone that had caught his eye.
After his swim, Axel fished the upper pool, trying to catch a fine trout of two. He stayed nude, standing, sitting, or stretched out on his belly, propped up on his elbows, letting the hot sun kiss his bare skin, especially his taut ass, turning it nut brown. The boy was slender with a fawn like physique but with a wiry musculature, toned and taut. From the rear, the boy was all curves: calves, thighs, the taut globes of the buttocks, the swale of the lower back, the slope up to the round shoulders. He had virtually no hair on his body just sparse tufts under his arms and at the fork of his legs with the lightest of dustings on his lower leg and arms.
Axel liked opportunities to be naked out of doors. It felt right and exciting somehow, just the thing when you were young and carefree, the juices flowing, an expression of youthful vitality and exuberance. He knew he had a trim and pleasing physique. He couldn't understand why some folks thought being naked was sinful. Isn't that how God made us? Why so much fuss about clothing? Beside, the less clothes he wore, the less work for Axel who was tasked with doing the wash, not exactly a favorite chore for any self-respecting seventeen year old male.
At least these days MacCrae tolerated his sleeping in the nude during the summer instead of in a nearly ankle length night shirt -- ugh. Too much like a dress for Axel's taste. Angus could hardly complain about lack of modesty in an exclusively male household. The widower shared the farm with only his nephew Caleb, who was eight years older than the boy, Axel himself, and the black cook Noah, a middle-aged bondsman with greying hair and a kindly manner.
Nevertheless, on the way back Axel did slip back into his breeches, actually hand me downs rather too large for his small waist. They rode very low on his narrow hips, exposing his flat belly to his pubes and barely covered his rear cleavage, threatening to slip off entirely if the waistband ever lost its tenuous grip on the boy's firm rump. He put his fishing pole over his shoulder, the catch of the day dangling from the end, and whistled his way back to the farm.
"Wha chu got thar boy" Noah asked when he arrived.
"Three fine trout, Noah! I caught four, but one was too small, so I let it go, just like you taught me."
"Thass good, boy, lets the littl'uns grow up, but you knows the rule: you cotch 'em, you gotta clean 'em."
So he did. Axel was a willing lad, never one to shirk his duties. That as much as his sense of humor was what won old Angus MacCrae over. He could see for himself that the slightly built lad worked to the limit of his strength at planting and harvest time or whenever there was a need. He held nothing back giving his all while the sweat poured off him, at times having to stop to catch his breath or simply trembling with fatigue.
So he did not begrudge Axel the occasional fishing expedition in the summer or a hunting trip in the fall after the harvest was in, or a snow ball fight in the winter. He even joined in himself at least for a snowball or two. A bit of frivolity in the dead of winter with nothing much to do on the farm but tend the livestock was a welcome diversion.
"Hello lad," Caleb MacCrae began. "I saw you fishing as I came over the ridge with the wagon. Still jumpin' out of yer clothes every chance you get, eh."
He said it smiling, but lately Axel had been wondering about the looks the man gave him when he thought Axel wouldn't notice. The ladder to Axel's loft was right outside the doorway to Caleb's room. The moonlight often let the man could see the nude boy go up and down to use the outhouse at night. In the daytime, he would eye the boy as he worked the garden, likely naked, often on his hands and knees, planting, gathering, checking for bugs, etc. The lad did not quite realize how attractive he looked kneeling on the ground, brown cheeks resting on bare feet, lithe torso bent over, ribs and spinal bumps prominent as, trowel or knife in hand, he worked at his mundane task, firm muscles playing under the skin. He looked so alive, a fine specimen of the human animal, bare and bronzed.
Caleb had set his sights on the boy. Women were scarce in these parts, and fewer still would put out, and he had always found women boring as companions. He thought the boy would do him fine, just like the cabin boys at sea when he shipped out as a seaman in the West Indies trade. Axel was pretty as a girl, an innocent lad, indeed a complete virgin. That would make it more fun, turning the innocent lad into his boy for fun and frolic, though with his uncle about, Caleb would have to seduce the boy. He couldn't simply force himself upon him. Seduction had its own attractions too, and Caleb rather liked Axel anyway as a person, a lively lad always willing to lend a hand.
Caleb was twenty-five, almost thirty years younger than his uncle. He was tall and lean, powerfully built, clean shaven and and darkly handsome. He had started working for Agnus MacCrae last year, when the younger man, fallen on hard times, had beseeched Angus for a job. For reasons never quite explained, Caleb's career on the sea was over, and he never traveled to the Tidewater regions of Virginia. More out of a sense of family obligation than any real liking for the man, Angus had taken him in. Besides he did need help around the place.
Caleb had always been pleasant with the lad, going out of his way to teach him sailor's skills like tying knots and how to use to stars to navigate. He knew the boy's love of travelers' tales. Axel had devoured the three volumes of Hakluyt's 'Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation (1598Ð1600)' borrowed from the library at the local schoolhouse. The boy had sat at Caleb's feet during the winter, listening to his embellished tales of his own exploits.
One fine day in early June of of that year, Caleb came upon the boy swimming once again, in the middle of the lower pool, sculling idly on his back, eyes practically closed, the very picture of contentment.
"Mind if I join you, Axel?" Caleb asked already stripping off his garments and kicking off his moccasins. "Here let me hang your breeches on these bushes next to mine."
"Thanks," Axel said in a shaky voice, watching this much larger man take off every stitch. This was the first time Caleb had stripped entirely in front of him, though he had seen him bared to the waist. The man was tall and lean and powerfully built, with strong shoulders. He was masculine and commanding with the hair on his chest trailing down his belly to a thick thatch at the fork of his legs. Within the dark patch was a formidable manhood, thick and pendulous. Axel turned his head, conscious that he had been staring, both dismayed and fascinated by the contrast with a virtually hairless boy like himself, so much smaller in every way.
No farm boy is truly innocent of the facts of life, growing up around animals, nor was Axel. He knew that male and female joined in the act of generation to further their species. That included men and women. But he was a boy, and this was a man. Why the sudden heat in his belly. Why had his heart sped up, his throat gone dry, and now his manhood was plumping up. Oh no, he could not let Caleb see him reacting like he was in heat. He turned his back to the man squeezing his eyes shut.
Caleb was smart enough to realize that he must be gentle with the boy, not scare him off by coming on too aggressively. He swam over to where Axel stood chest high in the water and put his hands on his small shoulders.
"Don't be shy, Axel. I won't hurt you, or make you do anything you really don't want to."
He put ran his hands down the trembling boy's flanks to his narrow hips.
"My, my, you are such a handsome lad, slender though well built. Here let me step a little closer. I so very much want to touch you."
The older male took the boy in his arms, stroking his chest and belly, rubbing his nipples, nibbling his ear, cooing and soothing the boy but letting him feel the strength in Caleb's arms. He put his chest to the boy's back, his legs straddling the boy's slender hips, virtually engulfing him. Axel whimpered as he felt Caleb's upright manhood press against his backside, into his cleavage.
Caleb reached lower and stroked Axel's erection with one hand, weighing his taut ballsac in the other. The boy's breathing speeded up. He felt lightheaded, flushed and incredibly hot despite standing chest deep in the pool of water.
His own hands stroked Caleb's hairy forearms uncertainly. He looked back anxiously into the older male's face to ask.
"Isn't this wrong? Man should not lie with man. That's what the Good Book says"
"Does it feel wrong, lad? Isn't this natural for us, these feelings, this attraction. Isn't this what you have wanted ever since I arrived on the farm? I know I have, watching you run around naked so often. We would be false to our own natures not to respond Axel. Let me teach you to make love to a man."
Abruptly Axel spun around and turned his face up to the older male. "Yes," he gasped passionately. "Please teach me. I am burning with desires I don't understand."
"Come with me then, Axel."
They climbed out of the pool and lay together around the margin, the soft grass for a bed. That was the beginning of Axel's education in male love. The boy was so small and beautiful, a delicate flower, just right for picking. His slender physique was utterly alluring, tanned, trim, wiry, with a well corrugated front and a fine round rump in back. His genitals were generous for a boy with such a slight build, the ballsac virtually hairless and pulled tight to the fork of the legs.
Caleb went slowly with the boy, showing him how a man can pleasure another man's cock with his mouth, a total surprise to the innocent lad. Axel couldn't believe how good it felt, to have his rigid manhood surrounded by such warmth and wetness, to feel the flutter of tongue and lips on the head of his cock or the gentle pull of lips on the rim of the glans, responding to the strong even strokes of a man's fingers with a mounting climax. He moaned inarticulately as the older male inducted him into the age old fraternity of males who take their pleasure with others of their kind, bringing him to a shuddering orgasm. After the boy came in his mouth, Caleb kissed him hard, sharing his own male essence with him. The boy thought this was terribly shameful but so very exciting and sexy.
Then it was Axel's turn to apply his lesson, though not lying down as before, as equals. Caleb stood tall, a tower of strength and masculinity with the boy on his knees, small and submissive, looking up worshipfully at his new lover. Gently was one thing, but the boy needed to realize who was in charge. The boy readily accepted his subordinate role as one ordained by his youth, his inexperience, and his small nearly hairless physique, so much less manly than the older male's.
Even so Caleb found himself responding to the boy's goodness and innocence, breaking him in very gently and carefully, not face fucking him like his other lads, but letting the boy proceed at his own pace. Though tentative at first, Axel was soon lustily applying the lesson he had learned from the older male, pleasuring him in turn, slurping, and licking, and sucking, careful with his teeth, as he had been instructed.
He wasn't so good at swallowing Caleb's member; his gag reflex got in the way. Caleb did not chide him or try to force himself deeper. No point choking the boy. Caleb could see the boy was willing, even eager. So what if he was clumsy his first time. He would get better with practice. He just needed time. Gently, gently.
For the first time he could remember he wanted a boy to be pleased as much as he was himself. It felt good, taking a boy as a partner not just a conquest. Axel looked so very pretty and submissive down there on his knees, gazing up at him trustingly. How could he betray the trust of such an innocent? Caleb felt unaccustomed warm feelings for his new lover even with so much water under the bridge. He quickly realized he could grow very fond of Axel. He was a good lad who inspired the best in those he met. Look how he had brought old Angus out of his shell.
That first afternoon, Caleb introduced Axel to the mutual pleasure of sucking cock, but saving the boy's ass for another time. A boy's first penetration could be scary and painful -- even humiliating and shameful, and Caleb wanted to strengthen his hold on the boy's affections before introducing him to anal intercourse. He never wanted Axel to be ashamed of anything they did together or afraid that Caleb would hurt him. No, he would never play rough with this gentle and trusting lad. As responsive as the youth was to Caleb's first lesson, he knew the boy would be just fine as long as Caleb was careful with him. This was one lusty lad who only needed a gentle hand on the reins.
The next day they were at the swimming hole again, not really for a swim but to make love. Caleb had told the boy to void himself before going to the pool. They stripped excitedly, practically dancing with anticipation. Axel knew this was the day he and Caleb would fully become lovers.
Their first true joining was face to face, with Axel on his back, body bent in half, heels in the air. The older male's large virile member slid along Axel's cleavage, from tail bone to perineum, poking, prodding and playing with the anal ring, teasing him before the real fuck. Caleb fingered Axel's hole, pushing in, lubricating him with a bit of chicken fat, thoughtfully preparing him for his first ever penetration, letting him get used to the idea that another male would penetrate his most intimate orifice.
Axel felt Caleb's manhood stretch the anal ring as the head push through the first ring then passed the next. The shaft slid inside, first just the head, to give him time to adjust to Caleb's impressive girth, then it slid in a bit further. Caleb was gratified that the boy's tiny orifice with its crinkly folds, could accept his rather impressive girth, letting him gradually slip in up to the hilt. When he was a deep as he could go with ball sacs touching, he was rewarded with a blissful sigh from his partner.
Caleb was pleased not only for himself but because he had brought so much pleasure to a boy who had till then denied his own longings. As Caleb started pumping, Axel asked for more cock, for Caleb to plant it deeper into him, to thrust harder, to fill him with cock. They fell into a rhythm, Axel raising his rump to meet the descending shaft as it penetrated his ass, using his internal muscles to squeeze the invading cock, both males sweating profusely. They climaxed together, Axel's seed shot out as a long string stretching from the cock to his face, a white stream that fell on face, chest, and belly. Two more spurts followed, nearly as energetic. This was a boy whose pent up sexuality was making up for lost time.
Caleb fell atop they boy and they lay together, their bellies pasted together by sweat and cum, the older male's cock still in the boy, softening now as they caught their breath and their pulses slowed, enjoying the afterglow of their lovemaking.
Caleb was gratified that the boy was not suddenly overcome with guilt and shame. Axel was smiling, almost giddy. They kissed sweetly then lay together quietly, gathering their strength for round two. For variety, he took the boy on all fours, doggy style. Axel giggled as he realized this was the position he had seen so often with farm animals. Caleb swatted him playfully on the rump, then eased in, reaching under the boy's belly to toy with his own manhood. Once again, they came together then collapsed to the grass, though Caleb quickly rolled off to let the boy breathe more easily. They lay side by side, holding hands, gazing at each other, silent, enjoying their intimacy.
Afterwards they agreed to always meet away from the farm and possible watchful eyes. Sometimes Caleb just enticed the boy from the garden where he was working already in the nude. The two of them walked more than half a mile to their swimming hole. Axel felt terribly naughty, out and about without a stitch on, off Angus's property, his boy cock semi-erect and bobbing as they walked, a drop of fluid glistening at the tip, terribly excited at the lovemaking in store for them when they arrived. The fact that Caleb at least wore breeches and moccasins while he was totally bare made him feel that much more naked and sexy. He loved the feel of the sun on his bare skin, the caress of the summer breeze, even the swishing of the tall grass on his bare legs, all emphasizing how utterly naked he was. Axel sometimes wished summer would last all year and that he could stay naked forever.
Though the boys were careful of preying eyes, it was soon clear to Noah and Angus that the two had grown closer. They were inseparable now, always finding reasons to share chores rather than do their own separately. The clowned around while working, joking, laughing, chucking chips or wood or clods of earth. Not that they slacked off. Just the opposite. Caleb had always done what he was tasked to do, but now he worked with a will, matching his young friend's energy. Angus was pleased that Axel had had a good influence on his nephew. He had been afraid that Caleb would be a bad influence on the boy.
Chapter 2. War, 1755
In those days the colony of Virginia included only the Tidewater and Piedmont regions, with the frontier of settlement in the Shenandoah Valley, just west of the Blue Ridge. Despite a legal claim to lands that extended indefinitely west, it was only after the Revolution that the new state of Virginia controlled territory all the way to the Ohio River including modern day West Virginia and Kentucky plus vaguer claims to vast lands across the Ohio, still thickly settled by Indians.
Beyond the Alleghenies lay territory claimed by the French and inhabited by various Indian tribes, notably the Shawnee. That tribe held widely separated territories on both sides of the Appalchians from near Spanish Florida and Savannah Georgia to Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Defeat in the Iroquois wars was the cause of their far flung diaspora.
The French had been building forts linking the Ohio River to the Great Lakes, staking a claim to that vast expanse of North America between the Appalachian mountains and the Mississippi from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico known as the Ohio Country. The forts secured a link between Canada via the Great Lakes and the Ohio River to the Louisiana territory, the western half of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River. The French wanted to hem British settlers east of the mountains, to control the fur trade of the west, and to generally block British and Protestant expansion.
The French had sent several missions in the previous decade to reaffirm their claims to the Indians, and to dissuade them from trading with the British. The colonial governor of Virginia Robert Dinwiddie sent a certain Major George Washington of the Virginia militia in the fall of 1753 to tell the French to withdraw. One thing led to another including armed clashes. The twenty-two year old Washington had to surrender and retreat after signing a humiliating capitulation. This touched off the war, leading directly to General Braddock's expedition in the summer of 1755.
During the previous winter Caleb MacCrae and Axel Van Zorn tried to carry on discreetly. With the household closed up for the winter, privacy was hard to come by. Sometimes they used Caleb's room in the back, on the other side of the house from the room where Angus slept, other times the barn. Noah had his pallet in a small shed off his kitchen, both connected only by a covered walkway to the main building.
Nevertheless, discovery was all but inevitable. One day in early spring, tracking the sounds of lusty sexual congress to Caleb's room, Angus burst in on the two young males. The moonlight streaming through the small window illuminated the scene showing the covers thrown back, the two young men naked and sweaty and entwined with the smell of sex heavy in the air. Angus uncharacteristically uttered an oath, turned his back and returned to his room. The next morning he called the two lovers to account.
"I am deeply disappointed in you Axel. I had such hopes for you. Ach, I suppose it was my nephew that led you astray."
"Yes uncle. I took advantage of him, of his youth and innocence. Don't blame Axel nor punish him. Punish me. I'll take my punishment then leave."
"No, you both must leave. I am sorry, but that is how it must be. I won't drive you physically off my land, though others might well do so if your misdeeds were known, but you cannot stay here. I cannot tolerate such conduct under my roof."
They set out with their few possession on their backs, north to the newly rechristened town of Winchester, formerly Frederick Town. Through the town passed the Great Wagon Road, the heavily traveled main route for settlement of the Southern United States, particularly the 'back country' from Pennsylvania to North Carolina and from there to Georgia. In Winchester the two young men found work loading and unloading goods for a wagoner named Daniel Morgan and tending the stock. Though he paid a fair wage, this was just a stop gap. They could never rise in the world working for another.
The lovers shared a pallet in the back of the harness room. No one thought it strange that they shared a bed. That was common practice in those days, with nothing untoward about it. Luckily no one ever thought to look in to see the younger male on his back with his heels in the air, the older one thrusting lustily into his rump, both breathing heavily, murmuring passionately. The mornings would find the younger male spooned to his lover, whose arm was thrown over him protectively.
In June General Braddock's expedition passed through Winchester, building a military road at right angles to the established route. Braddock and three thousand men had to cross a trackless wilderness on their way to Fort Duquesne built by the French at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, modern Pittsburgh. Morgan and the two young lovers joined up as civilian wagoners. They were with the supply column when the advance elements, the 'flying column' lead by Braddock personally met disaster in an ambush while trying to cross the Monongahela River. The lead elements fell back in confusion, as Braddock was shot off his horse mortally wounded. Only the leadership of 23 year old Lt. Col. Washington galloping about and rallying the fleeing men, kept the rout from turning into a battle of annihilation, earning him the well deserved appellation of the 'Hero of the Monongahela'.
The lovers ran forward with Morgan and frontiersman Daniel Boone to help with the wounded, armed only with knives and tomahawks. They ducked sporadic musket fire and carried wounded soldiers and militia to safety. They had no stretchers, having to carry the wounded as best they could, getting smeared with their blood. An enemy musket ball actually passed clean through Caleb's flapping jacket without hitting flesh. Axel got nicked on the cheek by a small splinter sent flying when another musket ball clipped a tree trunk next to him. Under cover of the line hastily formed by Washington, they brought the wounded back to the wagons.
Colonel Dunbar stationed with the rear column took command. He withdrew the shattered army, the outnumbered enemy not caring to follow. Dunbar realized that the defeat would set the frontier on fire, inspiring the Indians to rise up against the weakened British, including the local Shawnee who had not originally allied themselves to the French.
He sent riders back along Braddock's road to Fort Cumerland and runners to the settlements in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Carrying written dispatches from Dunbar to the settlers, Caleb and Axel hurried south into Virginia, along the western flank of the Massanutten Range, carrying warning to everyone they met, to the militia in the towns, and to the farms they passed, trying to reach Angus' farm as quickly as they could. They hardly stopped to rest. The old man watched astonished as two young men in bloody clothes trudged wearily up to him.
"Uncle, you must hear me out." Caleb started warily. "General Braddock is dead and his forces utterly routed. We face an Indian uprising. Please read this dispatch from Colonel Dunbar."
Angus quickly scanned the document which not only reported the facts of the defeat and called out the militia, but commended the bearers for their courageous conduct in rescuing the wounded at great risk to themselves.
"How badly are you wounded yourselves?" he asked the two lovers.
"Oh, it's just a scratch sir." Axel said. "This isn't our blood on our clothes. You should see the bullet hole in Caleb's coat!"
Suiting his actions to his words, the irrepressible youngster pulled the flap of Caleb's coat out and poked a finger through the hole, wiggling it back and forth, a big grin on his face. Angus smiled to see Axel clowning around. It made him realize how much he had missed the boy and his antics.
With an Indian War afoot, and in view of the courage and loyalty of the two lovers in carrying warning to him and his neighbors and all along the frontier, Angus said he would let the two stay with him, at least till things sorted themselves out. Truth was he had missed Axel terribly, for all he had been dismayed by his conduct. The boy was like a son to him, providing the only joy and laughter he had had in in his lonely life for years. He was so young and cheerful and full of life; he had filled the void in Angus' heart. Angus' firstborn and only male child had died within weeks of his birth. There had been only two girls after that, both married now and moved away. He embraced the young man he had come to love as a son. To Caleb, he extended his hand in friendship.
"Uncle Angus, I think it better for me join the militia in the field. They are gathering in town in the morning." Caleb said. "Axel can stay here with you to protect the farm. Thank you for your offer to stay, but I do not want to cause you further distress."
"Aye, Caleb. I am thinking that would be for the best. I was hurt at first, and I am still quite upset about such practices, but I must admit that you have turned out to be a better man than you promised at first: hard working, selfless, and courageous. The boy and I and Noah will be safe here while you are off with the militia protecting our beautiful valley. We will sort things out on your return. But you shall not leave till the morrow. I have questions for ye and I am sure Noah would be terribly disappointed if you went away so suddenly again, without giving him a chance to cook for you. We shall have a fine meal this evening. It will be like old times."
That night, the young men slept in Caleb's old room, with the older men allowing them the privacy to express their love for one another. In the morning, with a change of clothing, Angus sent his nephew off with his blessing. Whatever their differences, there now existed mutual respect between them.
Chapter 3. The Raid
Less than a month later, word came back that the militia had beaten back a raiding party on outlying farms west of the town. Several men had been lost and others wounded including Caleb. They brought him back on a travois; his leg had caught a musket ball while firing on the enemy. It had been cleaned and bandaged and would heal clean, but he could not serve in the field for quite some time. He could work around the farm and help defend it. That made it Axel's turn to take active service with the militia. At eighteen though just barely, he had to shoulder a man's responsibilities, boyishly slender though he looked.
Axel was already a fine shot. MacCrae was a veteran of the '45, the Jacobite Uprising a decade earlier seeking to restore the Stuarts to the English throne. A lowland Scot, he had fought for the English King George II, German though he was. For all that, what was 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' but half Polish and a Catholic to boot with an army of the barbaric and tribal Highlanders. MacCrae, a firm Presbyterian and townsman, had settled in the frontier years before, comfortable living among the Scots-Irish who, after all, were no more than lowland Scots themselves, transplanted a century earlier into Ulster in Ireland. They had migrated en masse to the New World around 1718, driven out by rapacious landlords and commercial discrimination against their produce in English markets.
For two years Angus had drilled the boy in loading quickly, though a rifle would always take nearly a minute to load compared to twenty seconds for a Brown Bess musket. The trade off was it had at least three times the range of a musket, out to 300 yards. A musket was good for one third that at best and was usually employed in volley fire at 50 yards or less. He had the lad practice loading in the dark too or with a blindfold on in case he had to fight at night.
Angus had paid a smith to add a socket for a bayonet to the Axel's Pennsylvania rifle and then drilled him in using it, not in formation, like a soldier would, but nimbly like an Indian fighter facing spears and tomahawks with a discharged firearm. The trick was to use the five feet of reach to keep the enemy away from you without letting him within your guard. You could also use the butt of the rifle like a quarterstaff. The bayonet, a hunting knife and tomahawk completed his armament. the MacCraes and Noah had rifles too plus three horse pistols for close in home defense, in case someone broke in, but they were too heavy for a man on foot.
Captain Turner of the militia was tired of responding, often too late, to Indian attacks. He wanted to go on the offensive himself, to raid two of the closer Indian towns to teach the Shawnee that peace is better than war with the settlers. Let them worry about their own villages rather than plan raids on the settlers. His company of militia numbering over a hundred set off across the Alleghenies with high hopes of making quick strikes on two villages and then returning safely. It was hot work toiling up and down hills and mountains carrying all their gear. No horses on this trip. Just shank's mare. Some of the men wore boots though others like Axel were satisfied with soft-soled moccasins.
Indeed Axel and one other youth named Johnny Strang, a lithe redhead a hand's-breadth taller than Axel, were dressed entirely like their Indian enemies. In the heat of high summer, they wore only a deer hide loincloth passed through a cord wound low around their hips. Except for moccasins and loincloth, their tanned bodies were bared for all to see, like naked savages only without the war paint. The color of the deerskin nearly matched Axel's deep tan. From any distance, it was hard to tell that the boys weren't entirely nude. Even up close, from the side, they were as good as naked. The strip of hide was only two hands breadths wide in any event and tended to bunch up in the boys' cleavage, not that they minded the least, especially Axel who would quite happily have pranced along naked. They carried matching leggings and hunting shirt both perched in a roll atop their packs.
"Is that an Indian buck snuck in among us?" one of the men asked with a grin nodding at Axel.
"The right color, I'll grant you, but he is more like a fawn than a buck," another joked. Axel pretended he had not heard.
Axel was one of the new recruits and knew he had to endure a certain amount of teasing and testing. So he just smiled at that remark or others like it, as when another militiaman opined that Axel's blonde thatch would be quite a coup as a scalp for some Indian brave. Finally one of the teasers asked if he really knew how to use his rifle. With a big grin on his face, Axel pointed to a distant target, a dark knot in a tree about the size of a man's head and almost 300 yards away.
"Watch" he said simply, then raised his rifle and fired. The Captain was looking through his telescope to observe the fall of shot. Snapping it closed, he said simply.
"One dead Indian". The men nodded, accepting Axel now as one of them. He had proved not only competent but personable, someone who could take a joke as his expense. A good comrade then for the march. Johnny Strang, a year older, was already known as a marksman.
Turner had been skeptical of the lack of experience of some of the young men, boys really, like Axel and Johnny, but a militia captain takes what he can get. Still their wiry physiques gave every indication that the boys could keep up and carry their loads. Rural life rarely breeds weaklings, and who said pretty boys like those two wouldn't prove stout fighters. Besides their packs loaded with jerky and pemmican and way bread, the boys carried rifle, powder horn, canteen, knife, and tomahawk.
Turner wondered what had caused the temporary rift with old Angus. The man was crusty maybe, but always a fair man, hospitable, and a dependable neighbor. Then last year Axel had gone off like that to Winchester, though he had been with Angus' cousin and they had come back, so he had not been a runaway. Indentured servant or no, Turner had no complaints himself. He rather liked the cheerful lad.
The militia company crossed rivers and streams passing occasional outlying settlements and farms. On the second day they spotted smoke from a burnt out settler's cabin. Five bodies were strewn around the wreckage including two children under ten. The woman had been raped, then her throat cut. After burying this grim reminder of the nature of frontier warfare, the militia pushed on.
Axel heard many of the men curse the Indians for savages, and he agreed, but he also wondered how very different were their own methods. Weren't they planning on killing just about anyone they found at the two Indian villages? Frontier warfare wasn't over possession of a mere battlefield but of an entire countryside. The two civilizations, white and red, were locked in a century old struggle for a continent, with the Indians often the pawns or allies of the French or the Spanish. Given the growing numbers in the English colonies, over one and one half million and doubling every twenty-five years, the outcome was inevitable. In the long run, the red man did not stand a chance.
That did not mean that in the short run, the Indians could not win a battle or even a war, especially with the help of a European power. The militia started down the far slopes of the Alleghenies the third day. Now they were definitely in Shawnee country. Turner sent scouts out farther than when they were in white man's country. Ambush was a favorite tactic among the Indians. He hoped their approach had not yet been noticed.
Now that they were deep in the forest, Axel wore his leggings though not his hunting shirt. The leggings had no seat or front. They sheathed just the legs with the loincloth covering the groin and the rump as before. Axel now wore a small brimmed cap to conceal his yellow locks, a dead give away in the green forest. It struck him that Indians never wore headgear, and he wondered why. He sometimes wore a straw hat in the fields against the sun, although on those occasions, the straw hat was all that he wore. Ah the happy days of his innocence and virginity, carrying on so often in the nude without a clue to how it had affected Caleb.
Finally scouts ran back to report that the first Indian village was nearby. The militia had got close enough to launch an attack without themselves getting ambushed, but the Indians had been warned by berry pickers on the slopes who had carried the alarm to their village. Maybe two hundred lived in the collection of wickiups, huts constructed over oval frames covered with brushwood. Tinder dry, they went up with a whoosh as the militia rushed the village, using flaming brands from the native's own cooking fires to set fire to their homes. The militia charged in shooting and slashing with tomahawks. Captain Turner laid about effectively with a sword. Resistance was unexpectedly light as many of the men were away hunting. It was short bloody work. Some who fell were women and children caught in the cross fire.
Afterwards, the militia herded the survivors, old men, women, and children to one side of the clearing. The broke all the bows and spears they found. With one of Turner's men translating, Turner warned them against any further depredations on white settlements. The Shawnee must stay on their side of the Alleghenies, the whites on the other. This time, the whites had spared the survivors once effective resistance ended. Next time they would not stop till every man, woman, child, and dog was killed. He also reminded them that the French were not the true friends of the Shawnee, trying to force them to deal with French merchants even though the Indians themselves got a better selection and prices from British merchants.
Turner let his militia set fire to the corn fields. Dramatic though it looked, he knew the corn was ripe and the Indians would salvage most of it. Green corn burns very fast, then the fire goes out doing little damage to the ears of corn. The Indians wouldn't starve over the coming winter nor come over the mountains on desperate raids on the settlements in search of food.
They marched out of the village the way they came, went a few miles to disguise their intentions, then cut north to their second objective. They would have done better to return directly to the Shenandoah, having struck a strong blow. The countryside was now aroused against them. The Indian hunting parties returned and sent runners to other villages including the colonists' next target.
Axel himself was queasy about the killing. In the excitement of his first action he had shot two Indians and even stabbed one with his bayonet, a mere lad a couple years younger. Afterwards he felt relief but not elation. He decided that warfare was a dirty business, maybe necessary at times, but a sad reflection on the human species. The land was so vast. There was plenty of room if only the Indians settled down and worked the land intensively with European methods. Extensive agriculture and hunting were a dead end. Why couldn't they see that.
Axel's point was well taken, but the Indians would never give up their way of life voluntarily. After being pushed hither and yon by the Iroquois, the Shawnee were glad to support the French, traditional enemies of the the Six Nations.
Chapter 4. Pursuit
It was while the raiders were crossing a wide stream that Axel and Johnny Strang got separated from the others. The stream was too deep to ford so the militiamen had to swim for it, stripping off their clothing, then floating their gear across on makeshift rafts: tree limbs, shirts or leggings stuffed with grass, etc. As part of the rear guard, the two youths were stripped and waiting to cross when several others got into trouble in the water. Both good swimmers, the youths plunged into the water and helped the men to safety on the far side. Suddenly the Indians attacked the remaining rear guard cutting them down. The youths had to abandon all their clothing and gear on the far side of the stream. The men they rescued passed them tomahawks from their own gear, so the youths would at least have some kind of weapon, then everyone ran off down the trail.
Shots rang out from the woods dropping the two other men with them. They were cut off from the main body. The boys lunged off the trail into the forest, away from the ambush, soon coming upon another nearly overgrown trail. They ran for their lives, managing to escape immediate detection. After an hour they paused to catch their breath and take stock. They had run to the west of the line of march. That much was clear from intermittent firing to the east, a running battle from the sound of it. Going east would take them right into the thick of it, not a good idea armed only with tomahawks. They had no guns, no ammunition, no food or supplies of any kind. They were naked and barefoot, their hides already cut by brush and thorns. At any other time Axel would have been pleased to be alone and naked with Johnny Strang. Now they had to worry about survival.
Though the Indians were not right behind them, the youths suspected the Shawnee knew they were out there somewhere and would be on the lookout for them, maybe do a sweep on their way back from the battle with the militia.
"Southwest, that's the way we should go." Axel said firmly.
"Why? That is away from the settlements in the Shenandoah Valley. We have to go east, across the mountains."
"Yes, Johnny, eventually, but later. The Shawnee will expect us to head that way. Also east is against the lay of the land, crosswise to every stream and ridge line. The grain of the land lies south and west. Let's run with it for a ways before we turn east. We can make better time that way. We can head back north after we cross the mountains."
So the two youths turned and tramped southwest hoping to put some distance between them and the Indians. After an hour, they could no longer hear shots from the main action. Still the trail they were on probably lead to some village. Yes, a village held food, but a village meant warriors and dogs to alert them. They would have to rely on what they could gather in the forest and meadows. At least the youths had plenty of water from streams. They stopped and ate some berries and to dig up roots like wild carrot and,less appetizingly, chew grubs found under a log. With evening upon them, they found a small grassy area surrounded with brush and settled down for the night, with only the grass for a bed.
Though it was a warm night, it was only natural for the two youths to lie close together, to hold each other protectively. They were so very vulnerable, alone, unclothed, afraid they would be killed or worse, captured and tortured. Axel had not realized how beautiful a young male body could look in the moonlight. Johnny had only a light tan compared with Axel's late summer color, but his skin positively glowed in the light of the full moon. He was virtually hairless except under his arms and at the fork of his legs. Axel was enthralled but afraid to say anything, afraid Johnny would find advances from another male repugnant, as so many did.
Axel asked hesitantly about Johnny's family, learning that his companion was the youngest of five brothers, farming a large holding with their widowed father. His mother had died bearing him. Though he did not say so, he was virtually a virgin with females. For the most part, he provided relief for his sexually frustrated brothers and actually liked sex with males, as long as he could be versatile.
Axel was so obviously and anxiously working up to making an advance that Johnny almost laughed in his face. Instead he simply leaned forward and kissed the younger boy on the lips, pressing to maintain contact as Axel drew back a bit in surprise, drinking in the sweetness of his companion. For his part Axel tried to both smile and kiss Johnny back at the same time, rather difficult anatomically.
"Oh, Johnny. I never realized..."
"That I had my eye on you, running around in next to nothing? Of course I did. Now hush, let's make love. Even if it is the last night of our lives, tonight we have each other."
Their eagerness for each other was born not only of lust and comradeship but of affirmation of life in the face of danger. In the age old response to the threat of extinction, their sexual desires drove them to consummate their eagerness for each other. Each was happy to find that the other was not a clumsy virgin, but a lover of some experience. Their kisses and caresses grew more ardent, even frenzied. They rolled on their sides and pleasured each other orally, hands roaming all over their rumps, touching, stroking, probing. They came quickly, tasting and swallowing each other's gism, then shifted to face each other once again.
They agreed they ought to slow down and make their pleasure last longer, and their lovemaking became tenderer. Johnny had usually bottomed for his brothers and enjoyed taking the top role with Axel. For his part, Axel was happy to oblige. Johnny was well endowed and knew how to use his natural gifts. His long member seemed spectrally white, almost ghostly in the moonlight, but there was nothing insubstantial about it. Longer than Axel could cover with both his small hands, it was also almost bigger around than he could reach.
Very like Caleb's, Axel realized in a brief moment of guilt. Would Caleb begrudge him this pleasure given the circumstances? No, whatever his faults, Caleb would understand. If they ever got out of this, where would he and Johnny take their relationship? Well those were questions for a very problematic future. With renewed eagerness, Axel gave himself to Johnny, holding nothing back except vocally; both youths knew they had to be as quiet as they could. Johnny later put Axel on all fours giving him total access to his young lover's delectable body. His hands roamed everywhere, tweaking nipples, fingering the chevrons of his ribs, stroking his taut buttocks. Johnny leaned forward and whispered endearments in Axel's ear as he pumped steadily, letting Axel stroke himself to keep pace. They came together one final time then lay down to rest. They would need their strength on the morrow.
They started at first light, and it was well they did so. Their early start put them a few miles ahead of pursuers returning from the war party. The militia had withdrawn farther than the Indians had cared to follow. The whites had retreated in good order but had taken casualties including four killed. The Indians were disappointed they had taken no captives to torture, so their pinned their hopes on capturing Yellow Hair and Red Hair as they called the youths. It was known that both were barefoot and naked and armed only with tomahawks. Such naked prey should prove easy to find. Indeed they tracked the young men to their nighttime lair. The lingering smell of sex brought smiles to their faces. So, young lovers. That would make their capture so much the sweeter for their cruel games.
Axel and Johnny's progress was slowed by the need for caution in Indian country, the need to disguise their trail, and the need to forage as they went. They crossed rocky terrain when they could, hard as it was on their bare feet, to avoid leaving tracks on softer ground. They waded the length of small streams, up to their knees and sometimes up to their hips, occasionally cooling themselves off with a quick dip. That way they left no tracks nor broken branches to mark their passage.
Johnny loved to watch Axel walking in front of him. The boy was deeply tanned all over. Naughty thing that. He must run around naked a lot on the farm in warm weather. The movements of his slender physique were utterly alluring, especially the twitching of his small buttocks. The swing of his arms made the muscles of shoulder and upper back bunch and ripple under his flawless skin. He had so little body fat, he showed a tracery of veins on his forearms including the long veins from shoulder to wrist. He was much the loveliest faun in the forest with his petite body and beautiful face. How lucky Johnny felt to have met such a one in the midst of a war. This couldn't end there. They had to survive, to explore their love.
By afternoon, the youths could hear the sound of pursuers getting closer, maybe ten or twelve in number. It was no use trying to fight so many, not even from ambush, not with just two tomahawks between them against a dozen well-armed braves. As the negotiated a steep hill, Axel spotted a large wasp's nest hanging from a tree just up the slope. He told Johnny to keep running and to let himself be seen, then scrambled up the slope. As the war party neared, Axel chopped the wasp nest free and let it tumble down the hill amongst the Indians. The angry wasps swarmed out of their paper nest, buzzing and stinging -- unleashing pandemonium among their pursuers who scattered yelping plaintively. It gave the boys a chance to open up some distance between them. They laughed as they ran, chortling over the way they had at least temporarily discomforted and discouraged the Indians.
That evening, they celebrated their close call with energetic lovemaking on the mossy bank of a creek, hidden from view by heavy brush. The moss was like a soft bed, as the boys rolled about, suppressing giggles, exploring their young bodies. Axel liked the springy support the moss gave his back as he lay heels high, Johnny on top, thrusting into him lustily, both boys kissing and stroking each other. Though the moss left them streaked, that stain washed off easily enough in the morning. The sand they used to wash with was harsh on the skin, but left it clean and tingling.
By the next day, the Indians had closed the gap the wasps had opened up. One of them incautiously let out a yelp of delight, giving the boys warning of the close pursuit. They ran as fast as they could, looking frantically about for some further way to delay the party that was after them. If only they had the means to set a fire. Suddenly they looked down slope and saw a cute black bear cub rolling in a meadow, its mother nearby nosing about a small creek. The boys threw stones at the cub then ducked behind bushes. Fortunately the wind was blowing toward them. The mother looked up in alarm as the cub bawled and saw only the Indians, not the boys. She charged.
The Indian party was caught by surprise, reeling from the angry and protective mother bear. Two Indians with flintlock muskets took wild shots but missed. In her anger and fear for her cub, the bear mauled three Indians. The rest had only bows and spears and scattered while the bear and the cub ran into the woods. The boys took to their heels and put a good distance between themselves and the Indians who understandably took quite some time to collect themselves and tend to their injured, leaving three of their number at a nearby village to heal.
The boys were in high spirits as they ran along. With such a good head start they had a good chance to escape back to the settlements, so they ran as fast a pace as they could maintain, less worried about being spotted. Their lack of caution was understandable if not exactly excusable. As they crossed a stream, they came upon a young Shawnee woman with her toddler digging roots for the pot. The youngster had his back to the root ball of a large windfallen tree with nowhere to run. The mother might have tried to get away, but not without her child. The two youths were in a quandary. Their captives would surely raise the alarm, if they let them go.
"Yes, of course they will tell the warriors, but we cannot kill them, Johnny," Axel insisted, his voice shaking with emotion. "We are soldiers, not murderers."
"You are right, Axel." Johnny said with a sigh. "I didn't sign up to kill women and children especially a mother and child."
With some reluctance, they motioned to the mother to take her child and go. The woman pointed to their tomahawks. Both young men shook their heads, no. The young woman was mystified at this unexpected mercy but grateful. She picked up her child then reached into her pouch and gave them the pemmican she had brought with her for their lunch. As the boys ate hungrily she looked at the two youths, only then fully taking in their nudity. Axel and Johnny for their part saw how she looked at them, the way a young woman looks at a young man, and moved their hands protectively over their groins. This sudden attack of modesty struck all of them as utterly comical in the circumstances and everyone burst into nervous laughter. Smiling and waving the Indians on, the youths resumed their march, trying to disguise their direction of travel a bit.
The woman carried word about her remarkable encounter with Yellow Hair and Red Hair and the mercy they had shown her and her child. They must have known she would tell of their passing. Some of the local braves were for taking up the pursuit of the white men, but the chief said that his villagers must let the boys go. The Indians had their own sense of honor, and the young whites had spared two lives they could easily have taken, if only to protect their own. They did tell the pursuers about the boys, but that was all. By then the boys were nearly a full day ahead.
Chapter 5. Homecoming
In the end, that was enough. They kept their lead, ahead of pursuit, and finally reached civilization three days later, footsore and weary, scratched and dirty, and very hungry. They drew stares as they walked into a small settlement near the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley utterly unconcerned that they did not have stitch on. A middle aged man greeted the two youths.
"Come sit down and rest, young travelers, and tell us what has befallen you. It would be quite a story you two would be having, if I don't miss my guess."
Then, raising his voice he shouted: "Woman of the house, food and drink for our guests, and blankets to cover their nakedness."
Wearily the boys lay down while their abused feet and other hurts were tended, relating the story of their escape. Afterwards they ate a meal and washed up in the creek then slept the clock around in the same bed, looking very young and innocent and beautiful together, like a pair of angels. They woke up refreshed to the smell of coffee and bacon and eggs and flapjacks. It felt good to be back in civilization.
Within the week the youths arrived at the MacCrae farm, both bare-chested in the heat. Caleb called out a greeting and ran to embrace his lover, picking him up and swinging him around. He had nearly given him up for lost, based on what Captain Turner had reported, before the message came from the southern settlement that Axel was safe and would travel home as soon as he recovered from his ordeal. For a moment, Axel forgot that Johnny was with him and kissed Caleb full on the lips. Johnny shifted his feet uncomfortably.
"So this is the young man who was with you, Axel?"
"Yes, I am Johnny," the other youth said, speaking for himself. "Johnny Strang. You must be Axel's friend Caleb."
"Welcome to our farm."
Angus greeted Axel like a prodigal son, engulfing him in his powerful arms, and Noah promised them a special supper for the evening. With the house so crowded, it was agreed that the three young men would stay at the nearby Haggarty place, just on the far slopes of the hill that housed Angus' own farm buildings. It was close enough to walk in less than ten minutes. The Haggartys had moved on after the loss of the elder Haggarty in the raid, turning the farm over to their good neighbor Angus.
The evening meal went well though with an underlying awkwardness for Johnny. He wasn't sure just where he stood with Axel now that they were back in the settlements. For all their danger, their experience had been exciting and arousing. What would they do now?
He shouldn't have worried. Axel took the lead and stripped off after dinner taking both older males firmly by the arm and leading them to the heavy framed wooden marriage bed, large enough for three.
"I'm not choosing either of you. I want both!"
That broke the awkwardness and all three hopped into the big bed. Caleb was big, Axel small and Johnny lithe so there was plenty of room. Good thing too that old man Haggarty had built sturdy. The bed got quite a workout that night. With privacy assured, they could be as vocal as they wanted, a first really for Johnny and Axel together. No pursuers to worry about.
Axel naturally was on the bottom, sandwiched between the older males. Sometimes they lay side by side, Caleb addressing Axel's taut rump while Johnny kissed him fervently, both grateful that they had such a lovely creature for a lover. Then Axel sat astride Johnny, working his cock into his hole while Caleb played with his nipples from behind and stroked his flanks and butt. Later Caleb put Axel on all fours and both he and Johnny probed Axel's twin orifices, switching back and forth till one came in his ass and the other down his eager throat. They sighed and sagged together on the bed, spent but satisfied.
The morning brought giggles and renewed love play, though they did have to get up for their morning chores. After a hearty breakfast at Angus' house, Axel set to work on the garden -- in the nude. Johnny helped Caleb repair the rabbit hutch.
That evening Angus spoke of the future. He intended to work both farms as one unit but he would need more hands. He wanted to put in apple and especially peach orchards on the sloping land between the farm houses and a distillery. (The frontier people of the Piedmont drank heroic quantities of peach brandy.) Was Johnny interested in hiring on? It must be rather crowded at home for him, the youngest of five sons, with no prospects of an inheritance. Angus had seen Johnny's closeness with Axel at a glance and figured 'in for a penny, in for a pound'. Johnny was delighted and accepted the offer.
"Now we are going to do this right," Angus announced at the celebratory dinner. "You three youngsters can do what you want in your place with no complaints from me. Just be discreet around other folks. Also, Axel, I am releasing you from your indenture, marking your bond completed. The Haggarty house and contents and tools are your freedom dues. In time, Caleb will inherit my farm."
"Noah, I am setting you free too. I would never have owned a slave at all if I hadn't inherited you from my wife. I hope you will stay on, as a freed man. I can pay you a fair wage and a share too. You can have Caleb's room in the main house.
"Thank you Master Angus. I likes the idea of bein' a free man, and staying on is just what I will do. I won't find a better situation anywheres else. 'Sides, somebody has to cook for you and those three, and none of you can't hardly boil water for coffee. An' thas a fact!"
So it was settled. Johnny visited his folks to let them see that he was fine, then moved in at the old Haggarty place, Axel's place now. They decided they wouldn't bother much with clothing till the cool weather in late fall. This was so much fun. They did get dressed for meals at Angus' house. There were limits after all.
They got the word from Captain Turner. The Shawnee villages just across the Alleghenies had decided to make peace, to declare a local truce with the settlers. Though the wider war raged on for years, extending eventually to Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Indian subcontinent, their little corner of the world kept an uneasy truce.
Ironically two of the reasons the Indians opted for peace were Captain Turner's restraint in the raid and the now famous pursuit and escape of Yellow Hair and Red Hair, two young warriors of courage, great physical beauty, and strong medicine. Though naked and armed only with a couple of tomahawks, they had outwitted and outrun three separate war parties, even calling on the spirits of the land to assist them by arousing the denizens of the woods to confuse and delay the pursuit, and yet they had gone out of their way to show mercy to an Indian mother and her child.
The story of their escapade passed into legend among both races.
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