Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
In 1728, Conrad Weiser, white clan brother of the Mohawks, saw Owkwari-owira—Young Bear—for the first time, a naked small boy daubed with clay and running wild in Chief Quagnant’s village. Weiser, his quick eye seeing pale skin under the dirt and grease, bartered for the child and took him back to the German settlement at Schoharie. Young Bear was baptized Johann Sebastian and found in Anna Eve, Conrad’s wife, a second mother. The Weisers believed that Bastian was the grandson of Anna Sabilla Schantz, whose daughter Margaretta had followed an English trader into the forest.
Many of the Schoharie community were preparing to move to Pennsylvania, where there was rich land for thrifty, industrious German settlers. Anna Sabilla had already gone to her own cabin in a clearing beside the Blue Mountains. Sturdy and resolute, she cared for Nicholas, her paralyzed brother, tended her garden, called all Indians thieves and rascals, but fed them when they begged at her door. For trader Israel Fitch, she carved wooden puppets in exchange for salt, cloth, and tools. Weiser took Bastian to her when he went to claim his own lands along the Tulpehocken.
Growing up, Bastian helped his grandmother with plantings and harvests. From Skelet, a sickly, humpbacked Indian whom Anna Sabilla had nursed back to health, he learned the ways of animals and the deep woods. When old Nicholas died, Bastian moved into his room. Tall and strong for his age, he was the man of the family at age fourteen.
The chiefs’ road ran through the clearing, and along the trail, Delawares and Iroquois traveled to and from the treaty councils in Philadelphia. Bastian knew them all—old Sassoonan of the Delawares, loyal Shekellimy, Weiser’s friend, who ruled the Delawares for the Six Nations, Seneca, Oneida, and Mohawk spokesmen—and they remembered Owkwari-owira. Sharp-tongued Anna Sabilla grumbled when he talked with them in their own tongues, but she raised few objections when he went with Weiser and the chiefs to Philadelphia for the great council of 1736.
The city was finer than Bastian had ever imagined it. Whenever he could, he left the State House and wandered through the streets and along the waterfront. He saw a shipload of German immigrants and among them a black-haired girl whose parents had died at sea. Because she had no one to pay her passage, her eyes were those of a hurt deer, and he gave all his money to a kindly couple who offered to look after her. Bastian heard only that her name was Ottilia before a runner from Weiser summoned him to the council. He went back to look for her later, but the immigrants had gone.
Anna Sabilla hinted that Anna Maria, Weiser’s daughter, or the Heils’s blond Sibby would have him quickly enough, but Bastian remembered black hair and dark eyes. Tramping from clearing to clearing looking for her, he found some passengers from the ship who remembered that she had gone away with a family...
(The entire section is 1210 words.)
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