Act 22: "You are as a fish!" / by Steve Hart

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The years of growing into adolescence were peaceful, enjoyable for Timpoochee and his people.

They lived their lives in relative isolation in the ancient mountains of Shaconage, connected to other only by a few well-known trails and, of course, other towns of Long Man.

It was a time of great discovery for Timpoochee and Cornstalk, even though the elder brother struggled in comparison to the other boys. He certainly seemed slower and dimmer than his younger brother.

Cornstalk was never able to quite grasp the intricate ceremonies and rituals of the Medicine, which taught the young ones the ways of Tsalagi but also helped the elders spot and nurture the future leaders.

Cornstalk never performed well and that worried Yufala.

When Isti Poldalgai, the teachers or diviners, “fasting men,” took youngsters for instruction Cornstalk seemed less willing to endure the fasts, less capable of maintaining the necessary concentration. This was never more evident than during Poskita, Green Corn.

In the woods, along a small creek which fed Long Man, the students dug up the red roots of gray willow, miko hoyanidja, pounded them into pulp and dumped them into boiling water over the fire.

The diviners blew into the mixture and sang a song over it. The students drank the mixture four times before highest sun and spend the afternoon purifying their bodies in cleasening and evacuation.

As sunset approached, diviners instructed the students in the simplest songs of the Medicine.

Cornstalk could not follow.

“You fool little child!,” the diviner scolded Cornstalk. “You are as a fish, knowing nothing but what is in front of you! Perhaps you belong in the creek, swimming helplessly into our traps and nets!”

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