“I can’t go back and face the old women of town,” Timpoochee said out loud to the trees.
He’d been walking all night and most of the day, following the river.
He knew he would eventually reach the town of Settaco and the central town of Chota but was still deep in the Long Man’s great canyons and judged Chota to be another half-day’s journey keeping the setting sun toward his left shoulder.
“What will Rising Fawn think of me now?” he muttered. “She will judge me unable to make peace with my own being. She will no longer want me.”
Long Man was different in these deep gorges and canyons. Quieter but teaming with creatures along the banks and huge fish in its water.
Timpoochee had to be careful with Long Man. Its currents could be swift and deadly without warning and what seemed like peaceful eddys could sweep away a hunter before he knew it.
And, of course, the further he ventured the closer he came to Uktena’s hiding place.
Focusing on his surroundings helped clear his mind. He realized how foolishly he’d acted with Rising Fawn the night before.
The sun was very hot this day, even in the deep gorges of Long Man and Timpoochee stopped several times to gently dip himself in the cool and healing waters to cleanse, both outwardly and inwardly.
Because he left in such a huff, he was unprepared for a journey of more than a day. He would have to find food and even though only part way through the journey of his Medicine he knew enough, maybe, to survive for a while longer. And he knew how to catch fish without nets or hooks.
“Maybe I go on,” he said. “Maybe I stay here and wait for the sun spirit to move me to the underworld and save those I love any more anguish.”