They walked along together for about ten minutes before ducking into a worn-down wooden building with a faded sign out front advertising rooms for rent. Surprisingly, this did not turn out to be the lodging house that Isaac had chosen to rest at for the night, and they continued on for fifteen more minutes, admiring the scenery along the way. Then Wyatt spotted what he was certain was the correct place. One story tall and made of broken and crumbling brick, the irregularly shaped building peeked out from behind a thick wall of beech and poplar trees. Run-down and hidden, Wyatt thought to himself, a perfect place from his son’s point of view. After entering and being informed that the, “American family that just arrived,” had not secured an additional room for anyone else in their traveling group, Wyatt paid for his own room and he and Claudia retired for the night.
Waking early the next morning and slipping out to take a walk and smoke his pipe, he ran into Isaac sitting under one of the large trees that surrounded the building. Starting to veer away from his son to avoid further confrontation, the younger man instead looked up and waved his father over. Once Wyatt was within a few feet of the tree Isaac abruptly stood up.
The two men stared at each other for long minutes, ones that were quiet except for the cooing of some rock pigeons that were clustered together on the rooftop of a nearby storage shed. Ultimately nothing was said between them and Wyatt stepped off to resume smoking his pipe. By that evening though, they had managed to start talking again. Wyatt, admitting that he knew little of the geography of Europe, had inquired about how long they still had to travel.
“About six hundred kilometers.”
Wyatt gave his best attempt at converting that to a distance that made sense to him.
“Maybe three hundred miles?”
Isaac only shook his head.
“Well, tell me then. I have no talent for figuring those kind of things out.”
“Hmmm, a long way then for sure. What are our travel arrangements?”
Isaac took his time responding, finally putting down the newspaper he was reading and looking at this father.
“So, you do wish to continue on with us then?”
Wyatt only blinked back in response.
“If you do, then you will be following my guidance going forward. And I mean that completely. You will do as I say or you and that miserable girl can stay here and find you own way about, or back across the ocean, whatever you choose.”
Realizing that he was now being offered a dare of his own, certainly as a well-thought out plan from the scheming mind of Lydia, Wyatt also knew that he was just as unlikely to call the bluff as his son had been.
“Very well, I understand that we have perhaps taken too many pains to aggravate each other. Claudia and I shall follow along with you and I will follow your guidance. Leave the girl alone though. She has done little to you and yet still knows you despise her. Leave her in peace.”
Rising up, Isaac replied in a mocking manner. “I do despise her father. We leave tomorrow by carriage; Lydia, Ambrose and I. Our, and your, possessions will follow in the wagon, as will you and the girl. Eight a.m. father, and not a second later.”
“Yes, very well.”
As the horses stepped off the next morning Wyatt struck up a conversation with the driver of the large wagon after getting Claudia tucked in as comfortably as possible among the chests and cases that accompanied them. Finding out their route did little to aid him in determining where, or even in what direction they might be going, and the driver’s English was poor enough to limit attempts at trying to figure out more. Place names such as Neuhaus am Rennweg, Probstzella and Creunitz meant nothing to Wyatt and he felt lost during most of the journey, doing his best to keep track of of their direction of travel. When they finally pulled into Lippelsdorf, he figured that they had traveled mostly South and perhaps a little to the east during their lengthy, but rather enjoyable, twelve day journey. Traveling in the much heavier wagon, they had fallen well behind Isaac and his family within the first few hours, and the remainder of the time passed slowly although the scenery was enough to keep Wyatt and Claudia’s attention. The driver also proved to know many good places to rest and eat on their route, and although not much else was said between them, he and Wyatt struck up a silent friendship along the way. After helping them unload the wagon the driver gave Wyatt a short, friendly hug and then jumped up into the driver’s seat to immediately start the return journey. Sitting down on one of the cases, Wyatt took some time look around as Claudia ran in circles around the large pile of belongings.
The town was obviously small but neatly kept, with well-manicured bushes surrounding the few homes he could see from his position on the side of the road. There were several people walking about, one pushing a wheelbarrow and a small family working together in a garden area of their property. A tall man, dressed in a wrinkled black suit walked right past Wyatt, and although he stared at the collection of luggage and Claudia, did not offer a greeting. The most striking scene though was the vast forest that rose up around the town, seeming to wrap it in a blanket of pine trees. Although Wyatt had seen the rise of these metamorphic-rock mountains as they passed along the narrow road bringing them into Lippelsdorf, it was another thing entirely to see the tall peaks from inside the embrace of the surrounding forest. Wyatt would have been content to sit and admire them for much more time; however, the piercing voice of his son cut into his reverie.
… to be continued