Readers became acquainted with Maggie Barnhill Wesley in the first book of the Wings of Stones series, The Journey. As the American war for independence erupted in the eastern colonies, Maggie traveled across the Allegheny Mountains with her husband Lowell Wesley, and a devoted bondsman Ben, to their western Virginia homestead. Donald Barnhill, Maggie's dearest brother, accompanied the group beyond Pittsburgh, where he left his sister to return to duty with George Rogers Clark on the contested frontier. Maggie's upbringing in a prosperous town outside Philadelphia had not prepared her for the hardship and hazard of her new life. She found isolation difficult to bear, especially when her first child, a daughter, died at birth. Maggie and Lowell discovered themselves frequently at odds. In their haste to wed, certain aspects of Lowell's past and Maggie's personality did not become apparent until the two had made binding vows. Maggie, however, was young and spirited, resourceful and determined. As the countryside around the nearest fort was occupied by more families, a community began to evolve. An engaging cast of characters developed, and Maggie welcomed the growing support of plucky friends and neighbors. A healthy living son, Robbie, enriched her world and bolstered her heart. The Shawnee dwelt all around her, in a parallel existence about which Maggie Wesley knew little, except to fear them. They, too, were engaged in fighting to defend their land against inroads made by the settlers who destroyed their homes. In Standing Elk's Town, in the Scioto River region of the Ohio area, a small Shawnee band struggled with the conflicts of changing times. The warrior Red Hawk moved from a peaceful stance to one of bitter vengeance. The village women's anxiety and deprivation were not unlike those Maggie experienced. They summoned strength to survive in much the same manner. Donald Barnhill was one of the movers and shakers of his day. It was he who had brought Maggie and Lowell together. He was ambitious, quick-thinking and canny. He rode with Clark's frontiersmen, working tirelessly to rid the territory of both British influence and the Indians he deemed a menace to progress. He moved easily between two cultures, recruiting for Clark in the East and protecting the West, enlarging its boundaries. His marriage to Lucy Robsart, the granddaughter of a wealthy Virginia planter, enhanced his status considerably. Service with Clark showed him the abundant opportunities of Kentucky. He established an estate near Harrodsburg. Donald encouraged the Wesleys to join him there, once the Indians were subdued and the route south was safeguarded. Even the ending of the Revolutionary War did not ensure that result, for the Shawnee continued on their own righteous path of war. Once more, Donald Barnhill altered his sister's fate. The poor farm had not met Lowell Wesley's expectations. Restless, he seized Donald's invitation as the definitive reason to make a fresh start. Maggie was caused to pack for another arduous journey. Rashly, Lowell assembled a group which was too small, and quitted a settled area too early. Well short of its destination, the Wesley party was attacked by Shawnee led by Red Hawk. All of the whites were killed; all but Maggie and her son Robbie. It is at this point, in the second Wings of Stone novel, that we take up Maggie's story again.
Wings of Stone - The Meetings
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