Timpoochee always regretted his brother’s punishments but he could do nothing to help him learn even the simplest chants and songs of the Medicine.
And it always caused the two to argue. But mental acuities weren’t the only reason why the two fought and the fighting had only increased since the white man’s visit and the catastrophe.
It was physical, too.
Since the white men arrived, Timpoochee was struck with the notion his own skin color was much more like them than like his own people. His hair was the same deep black but he was suddenly aware his skin was different. He began to wonder endlessly about this. Had the make of life decreed such a difference?
This new awareness along with what seemed like increased attention from his mother and father since the earth-shaking he could not help but wonder if he was intended for something special. Leadership, maybe. But he also knew his elder brother stood in line ahead of him.
“I am only trying to help,” Timpoochee said.
“You care for nothing but yourself,” Cornstalk shot back.
“Why do you say these things?” Timpoochee implored. “Are you not anxious to learn? Do you not want to go with Yufala on a trading trip?
“Have you not heard what the old Tcki say?” shot back Cornstalk. “They say Yufala is not even my father, nor yours. They say he merely bought us in the south as the price for our mother.”
“What is this nonsense you are speaking?” Timpoochee was aghast.
“What I tell you is true. He is not our father. They say you are part white man’s blood.”
“Do they also say that accounts for your gullibility and lack of wit?”
Cornstalk lunged across the room at Timpoochee, hurling himself into Timpoochee’s stomach and out the narrow house door.
The two struggled, exchanging insults and fists, rolling over and over toward the town fire and to the approaching feet of Yufala.