Timpoochee stood up, gazing into Long Man for some clue about what his next step should be.
Suddenly and without warning a trout jumped clear out of the water only a short distance away, jumping as if gleefully enjoying the boy’s plight. It jumped again moments later downstream. And again only a few moments after that, on downstream.
Timpoochee watched the fish jump downstream and out of sight.
He knew what he must do.
“If I am filled with Yonega blood I must go, become part of the Yonega world,” he said.
“Forget the teachings of the Medicine. Forget Rising Fawn. Forget my family. I will seek the truth in the white man’s settlement.”
He decided to keep his plans secret from Yufala but continue on with him to the Yonega settlement.
His ruminations were disturbed by a noise in the woods and he turned to see a rabbit scamper off into the distance. Thinking breakfast, he quietly followed the creature.
Once in a small clearing the rabbit froze, its eyes fixed on something across the clearing.
Timpoochee scanned the space for whatever it was that captured the rabbit’s attention. He suspected what it might be wanted to quickly find it before it found him.
Fortunately, the one who held the rabbit’s attention was just as busy with the rabbit as it was with him.
Timpoochee looked across to see a very large death-rattler coiled and ready to strike. Although his rattles were not shaking, Timpoochee recognized the signs of an imminent strike.
The snake sat in his coil, his body swelling with rage and hunger, rising and falling as a bellows.
The creature’s skin was speckled and rough because of its suddenly increased body size. His head and neck were flattened, his cheeks swelled and his lips narrowed.
The snake stared at the rabbit, fixing him in place as if the rabbit was a stone. Neither creature made any indication they recognized Timpoochee’s presence.
The death-rattler’s eyes became the color of embers. His tongue became like fire. His head flattened even more and suddenly, like a lightning bolt, he lashed out the length of a man’s body and tore his sharp fangs into the helpless rabbit.