Indian town was only rows of smoldering embers and foul, greasy black smoke rising into the perfect blue of a Florida sky. There was a bad, sweet smell in the air too. No one would look at anyone else. We had a herd of cows, and about 25 homeless boys of various ages, camped out south of St. Augustine and we didn’t know what to do next. The older people that survived would just walk around doing nothing. The few adults that remained would not speak to us.
Sandy told me that we better get out of there. We might be next to catch this red death. We sat around our night fire out with the herd, trying to figure out what to do. Most of the cow owners were dead. We had no one to speak with. Sandy said we better work out some story for Gov. Grant. Tell him we were the world’s best cattle drivers, and see if we could workout a job to drive his herd. We would have to make a really good tale and stick with it. Sandy was the interpreter; he looked older than he really was. We could get the other boys to come along, no trouble, there was nothing here for them. And, cows were all we really knew, we were town Indians, our families had lived here for a long, long time. We boys always could heat up for an adventure.
We abandoned that Indian herd, they could settle for themselves. I picked up enough clothing to dress Seminole with my leggings, turban, some beads and hung my horn knife from a Spanish belt. I had one calico shirt I had traded for. It made me look older. I guess if we were not going to get the sickness we never would.
We waited and talked about what to do for about two weeks. Then I picked out 20 of the best looking cows and five of us drove them to the fort, past the Governor’s house, making as much noise and racket as we could. We had enough boys and some dogs so we had them marching like a little army up to the fort’s shut wooden gate. It was normally open except at night; they were scared of the sickness. We kept those cows, three abreast, in a tight bunch. I never drove cows that good ever again. The white chief came out of the gate of the fort wearing his dirty red coat with big gold stripes on his arm. He stood well apart from us. He looked the cows over. These were the best ones we had. Sandy walked right up to him like a white man, looked him in the eye, and said “we have been hired by the governor to drive some cows down from Georgia, and we have to get rid of these quick. We will make you a good price, or trade,” Sandy said with a big smile. The soldier looked at us, his eyes boring into Sandy. “We got no cash money,” he growled. Sandy looked cast down but added we would trade for soldier muskets, some powder and ball, cause we needed these “to do our job for the governor. ”The soldier thought a bit, he could sharp us in trade. He kept us outside the gate for a couple of hours, some more soldiers came out, took over the cows driving them thru the gate.