Authors: Alix Hawley
PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF CANADA
Copyright © 2015 Alix Hawley
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Published in 2015 by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a Penguin Random House Company. Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Knopf Canada and colophon are registered trademarks.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Hawley, Alix, 1975—, author
All true not a lie in it / Alix Hawley.
eBook ISBN 978-0-345-80857-8
. Boone, Daniel, 1734–1820—Fiction. I. Title.
Painting of a Sunset: Souvenir of the Adirondacks
, 1878 by Asher Brown Durand.
© The New York Historical Society / Hulton Fine Art Collection / Getty Images
For Mike, Theo, and Kate, and for Jocelyn and Peter
I didn’t know much about Daniel Boone when I started writing this book. An image of him burst across my brain: an illustration from a
article, which I hadn’t seen since I was nine. I don’t think I’d thought of him since. But once I saw that painting of him again, I couldn’t stop.
American schoolchildren might learn his name in history lessons, but ask most people what he actually did, and you aren’t likely to get much of an answer. He is a slippery character, a peculiar mix of famous and forgotten. The known facts of his life are gripping enough, but he became a myth even during his own time, when wild stories about him spread around the world. Even Lord Byron included him in a poem. My novel continues this myth-making tradition, moving some of the dates of Boone’s chronology, making guesses. So who was he? He left almost no writing. Some say the body dug up and reburied under a monument in Kentucky years after his death isn’t his.
Certain people have a charisma that imprints itself on time. They don’t disappear. Perhaps they don’t want to. His voice has haunted me for the last few years. My story is about trying to find him. His story is about trying to find paradise, and about what happened when he brought about its ruin.
is a whore.
—Your sister is a whore.
—Your sister is a whore.
This they bawl beneath the creek bridge like hogs all stuck. I hear it often enough when I am seven years of age. I sing back down:
—Which makes me a whoresbrother.
An eye shines up through a crack in the boards, a rock comes for my head and I duck it, but one of the boys sees fit to add low as a judge:
—His granddaddy had a famous whore.
—Which makes me a famous—
Then we fight. I kick one boy’s shins and give the chin of another a crack with my elbow. A hard fist strikes my cheek and I hit out again unseeing with my little bird club. William Hill, who stands to one side watching and grinning, is fetched a bloody nose with the knob of it. Ha. He steps back covering his face and I run shouting insults of my own devising:
is one. I win the fights generally. And what famous thing does that make me? Well.
But Hill pounds along behind me calling: Dan, Dan. I turn and shout:
—You know nothing! The King of the Delawares stopped at my granddaddy’s house when I was two! For a cake! King Sassanoon! He had wives enough! And could have killed you all! I was there, I was two years old!
Hill stops on the path and bellows, all joy:
—You will be famous, Dan! I will make a book of you!
I know he is grinning through the blood on his face and his hair like dry straw in his eyes. I know he will not catch me. And I know he has told the other boys what his father told him, what is in the Exeter Meeting records, that whoring is in our blood.
Your granddaddy had whores in England
. The low voice beneath the bridge was his, it is just the same as his father’s when he leads Meeting. Hill will make up any tale, but this tale is true.
—Dan, I see you! I will catch you up!
I go faster. I feel his eyes on my back, the curious unclouded grey eyes of Hill. I have known him all my life. It is too long. When I see him I feel tied to him and to this place with a rope. My Fate has tied me and made a pair of Hill and me, like dumb white oxen bent to the plough. We are built the same way, not tall but strong. We are both clever enough but he is clever in my Uncle James’s school, and I have had enough of school. Our fathers are both in the weaving trade, but his father began in England as a rich woollen merchant, my Daddy has a few looms in the barn here and a little forge that does no good. Sometimes Hill and I are friends, most times we are not, so far as I am concerned. But he watches what I am doing, trying to do just the same if I am throwing my club or pretending to shoot, as though he has no interest in his own life and only wishes to catch mine like a fish. He will never leave me alone.
I run. At this time it seems to me that I can outrun my Fate.
—Your sister is a whore! And your daddy’s sister is a whore!
I am far from the Owatin bridge to town where I left them, the path is narrowing. A branch catches my ear. Two of the boys are
running a way behind now, I hear their yelling, but I am faster than anyone. My elbow aches, my feet burn, I hate my shoes. Hill is calling still: Dan, Dan. He thinks I am going up the hills to the pastures but he does not know, he knows nothing.
When I see the lane beyond the holly bushes I dodge down it and run hard all the way up to Granddaddy’s square stone house, where I never go. No one goes here. The boys will not see me, I am too quick. The house is built of the same brown stones as Meeting House in the township, though it has the look of a sick cousin. Granddaddy’s hounds bark and tug on their chains outside the old cabin he never knocked down. My heart thumps. I suck in the kitchen-garden smell of onions and graves.