Act 41: Taste of its promise... by Steve Hart

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“Mother,” Timpoochee said, still peering out the door in the direction of Rising Fawn’s house. “If she has the bowl outside do you think she would allow me to taste of its fruit of promise?”

“There is only one way to find the answer to your question, my son,” Swift Deer replied with a broad grin.

It was the custom of Timpoochee’s people that once families had discussed the possibility of marriage between two offspring the girl’s family placed a bowl of sofkee, or corn meal, outside its home beside the corn crib.

If the young woman was interested in the advances of a particular boy she would allow him to steal up to the bowl and from it take a spoonful. If she is not interested she was instructed to run him away before he could get to the bowl.

Inside Rising Fawn’s house she and two older women were still working to repair the damage from the bear attack. Rising Fawn’s father was away, on a full moon’s hunt. He was not due home for several more days.

“Are you keeping an eye on the bowl?” asked one of the older women as the young girl perched inside the doorway, fashioning a bowl from a mound of moist, warm clay.

Rising Fawn was becoming a bit dispirited.

“Yes, Uji, I am watching the corn meal but no one is coming. Are you sure you talked about this with Swift Deer? Maybe Timpoochee is not interested in me after all.”

“He is interested,” said Rising Fawn’s mother. “I have seen the way the watches you. I know that look. He is interested.”

“Wait...mother!” Rising Fawn suddenly perked up. “He is standing outside his house, talking with Swift Deer and looking this way!”

“Quickly, daughter, crouch down so he will not see you. If he does he might just keep going.”

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Act 42: A beautiful elk so sweet... by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee saw no one inside or outside the house as he moved as nonchalantly as possible in the direction of Rising Fawn’s sofkee bowl.

In the town, many people milled about and Timpoochee did not want attention attracted to his adventure, not this time. A few people looked up to notice Yufala’s son but no one seemed to pay him much mind.

He approached Rising Fawn’s house without much notice, or so he thought.

As he bent down toward the bowl a noise sprang from inside the house; maybe a girl’s giggle? He was so burning inside he could not be sure.

Suddenly, acting very much like a rooster, he resolutely dipped his finger into the meal, drew his sofkee coated digit to his mouth and tasted. He’d never tasted corn meal so sweet.

He kneeled in silence.

Nothing happened.

No one came running to chase him away.

The fire boiled up inside him and thought he might explode from its heat.

Still nothing happened.

He stood for a moment, which seemed to him like an eternity.

Noticing a stick on the ground nearby, Timpoochee began drawing in the dirt.The sketch became a map which showed the path to his favorite - and secret - place of quiet by the river.

“Maybe a beautiful elk will follow me to this place after the sun dips below the mountain tops,” he said softly but, he hoped, loud enough for Rising Fawn to hear him from her hiding place just inside her doorway.

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Act 43: Not sure of anything... by Steve Hart

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Even though the middle of the moon of small rain, the night sky was clear and the moon shone brightly on the trees and water as Timpoochee sat silently in his special thicket, waiting for Rising Fawn.

His sanctuary was a very special place, not only for him but in the beauty and tranquility of itself.

Up a creek only a short distance from Long Man and hidden from the river entrance by ferns, holly & hemlock. The water gurgled as it rushed across tree roots, rocks & logs near the river bank.

It was his place of refuge from the moment he found it as a young boy. It was his solitude, his thinking-place, his quiet in a noisy, changing world he did not fully understand. He shared it with no one. It was his and his alone.

And, yet, he offered to share it with Rising Fawn because it seemed right somewhere in his being.

Every sound Timpoochee heard that night became Rising Fawn breaking through to the small clearing. The barking frog suddenly silent became a signal she was near. The squeal of the squirrel bird heralded her arrival. Even the lonely whippoorwill, off in the woods, called her name. But as each sound faded back into the woods, Timpoochee realized she was not there.

His heart pounded. Blood pumped through his veins with the force of rushing water on the river. His soul wrenched with both the anticipation and desire of her arrival and a chasm of fear she would not.

These feelings were new for Timpoochee. He wasn’t sure of anything. Nothing seemed real and, yet, everything seemed all too real.

Visions in his head offered glimpses of what could be. Angst in his heart threatened to tear apart his very soul.

Suddenly, without warning or signal, the brush parted and through the opening danced effortlessly the girl of raven hair, clear dark skin and eyes that shone like the sparkle of the water dancing in the moon’s glow.  

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Act 44: Like my dreams... by Steve Hart

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“Rising Fawn?” whispered Timpoochee. “Is that you?”

She said nothing at first but stepped slowly into the thicket.

The moon shone on her breasts, making her even more desirable to Timpoochee by moonlight than she was in the day.

“Timpoochee,” she whispered back, in a voice which sounded like it had been taken straight from a nest of bees, sweet thick liquid.

“I followed you tonight because we must allow these feelings to find us, wrap around us, enclose us.”

“Seeing you right here, right now is like my dreams during slow days on the river,” Timpoochee said. “I have thought of you often for so many moons I cannot remember. A fire deep inside me calls your name over and over.”

“I have come to you find out what those feelings are all about,” replied Rising Fawn as she stepped forward onto the soft bed of moss.

Timpoochee rose from the ground to meet her.

Rising Fawn’s breech flap covered her from the waist to the middle of her legs. Her hair was plaited into wreaths, turned up and fastened on top of her head by a string of beads. She was slender, graceful when she moved, just like her name. Her hips were barely broader than her shoulders.

Timpoochee was clad in his flap of dried and stretched deer skin. He was dressed as if for a journey, although he planned on going nowhere else. His leggings covered his calves to protect him from thorns and bites in the woods. He was wearing the mantle of a student of the Medicine. It was white with a stuffed owl head on the back, glass beads hanging down.

With bodies shaking they embraced, her naked breasts barely touched his naked chest, nipples stiffening with the glancing caress of rapid breaths.

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Act 45: Suddenly one not two... by Steve Hart

“Let the fire within us guide us and keep us warm, tonight,” Rising Fawn said as Timpoochee embraced her, nearly exploding with heat from deep within.

Though he was light-headed with the energy from her presence, Timpoochee managed to slip the beads from Rising Fawn’s hair. It fell gracefully, like an eagle sailing downward toward the earth, cascading to her waist.

Bodies shaking, they fell to the blanket and soft ground.

As the moon shone brightly, the two young people searched with wonder for their feelings, sensations enveloping them with thousands of tiny light points.

He entered her and she surrounded him. They melded together and were suddenly not two but one person, intertwined, above and beyond any physical presence, not of the world as they had known it to that point. The sweetness, the love overwhelmed them and they flew together in some distant, magical realm.

For the next few nights, Timpoochee and Rising Fawn met in the thicket for love-making, swimming and talking over their thoughts.

“My mother and the Tcki know we have been spending out nights together, Timpoochee,” said Rising Fawn suddenly one night, as they lay on their backs, naked, looking at the moon which was growing wider each night with their love.

“That shouldn’t concern us,” Timpoochee replied. “We have been given the freedom to explore each other. Our families have talked. There is no cause for alarm.”

“Do you know the stories told about you by the Tcki?” Rising Fawn asked abruptly.

Timpoochee jolted to his knees. He heart felt suddenly as though it had been pierced with an arrow.

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Act 46: Stories told in muffled voices... by Steve Hart

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“They say you have the blood of Yonega and that is why your skin is lighter and your face sharper,” Rising Fawn whispered as Timpoochee kneeled over her.

“They say your mother returned with Yufala from a hunting trip. They say she is of the Creek clans.”

“Hompita haya” Timpoochee grunted, cutting off Rising Fawn. “Woman, your skin and spirit and love are like honey from the trees but your tongue is the sting of the bee which guards it. Why do you say these things?”

“I don’t say it to hurt you, Timpoochee. I would never hurt you. “I want to know all about you. I want to know everything.

“They say, too, your mother left her people to live with a white man in the low country. They say Cornstalk is the son of a Creek man and you are the son of Yonega. They say Swift Deer suddenly appeared with Yufala on his return many years ago.”

“My mother and family are respected by our people,” Timpoochee demanded through gritted teeth. “My grandmother is a Beloved Woman and my father is our leader. If what you say is true why are we not cast aside like the useless bowels of a fish?”

“Is that not why the stories are told in muffled voices?” Rising Fawn answered. “Do the Tcki dare offend the Ugvwiyuhi? You will one day be a great leader. Of that I have no doubt. You are part of my people.”

“Our people,” Timpoochee interjected. “Your people are my people.”

He grew impatient.

“We are one in the same. The other people are Yonega. If I am one of them why do I not live with them? Why do I not come to you from their towns and forts and not from Long Man?”

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Act 47: Even I do not know... by Steve Hart

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“Calm yourself, my love,” Rising Fawn whispered, gently rubbing Timpoochee’s back. “My feelings for you do not depend on the tales. I knew of the legend long before I knew of the fire which burned the name, Timpoochee, in my heart.”

“Then why bring it up at all? Does the bear care from where he came? Does the eagle care into which river he dives for a trout? What right have you to care about my past, my history? We are here, now. I have laid down for you my feelings. Should it matter what has gone before? We have tasted the sweet fruit of each other. Should the past make that fruit taste any different?”

“Timpoochee, your body is strong and your mind is quick. But you do not understand the ways of the woman,” replied Rising Fawn, growing a bit agitated herself.

“I must know these things to know you. I must know of your past to see your future. The fox doesn’t trail the possum without knowing she sleeps in the sun and travels in the moon. It is important to me to know what makes your beautiful skin the color of clay and not the color of the plum.”

“Then you are just as foolish as the Tcki,” Timpoochee shot back. “Does knowledge of the possum make the fox any more hungry for her? Why should you know when I have only heard only whispers of what you described? Even I do not know the truth. How can the Tcki and Rising Fawn know all the answers?”

Timpoochee jumped to his feet and ran quickly into the forest, away from Rising Fawn and away from the town.

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Act 48: He realized how foolish... by Steve Hart

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“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.”

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Act 49: I am fire people... by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee searched the river for a pool filled with fish.

“Uga would be good,” he thought.

Before he could look very far he found himself standing over an eddy teaming with trout.

Slowly, so not to disturb them, Timpoochee reached for the pouch tied around his waist. He emptied part of the pouch into the pool.

In only a very few moments, the fish came floating to the surface, belly up.

Timpoochee scooped as many as he could carry in his arms and returned to the small clearing where he’d started a fire.

Placing the fish on sticks above the fire, he collected blackberries and strawberries from a nearby thicket and together with the fish had quite a meal.

He wondered as he ate why Rising Fawn brought up the old tales from the town’s elder women. He wondered, too, why it was so important that she and the old women know the truth of his heritage.

“I am Tsalagi,” he said out loud to the woods. “I am fire people.

“I have been raised Tsalagi, taught the ways of Tsalagi. I have fished and hunted in Tsalagi world. My father is leader of our town, respected among all Tsalagi.

“It is of no importance what events preceded my life. What matter is what I do with my life as given to me by the Bearer of Breath. It is what I do for my people and myself which will determine what my life has been; not some old tales.”

Tired of worry over the long night and day and filled with the feast of trout and berries, Timpoochee finally relaxed and fell quickly asleep by the glowing embers of the fire.

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Act 50: What they know... by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee was awakened at the sun-spirit’s first light by the rude screeching of martins as they circled back and forth scooping unsuspecting insects from the chilled morning air.

As if usually the case with growing Tsalagi boys Timpoochee’s first thought was of food - and where to find some.

He had eaten enough blackberries the night before to fill him for a while. He wanted something more filling.

Rabbit would certainly taste good on this brisk morning, he thought, and stood up to survey his surroundings for a likely thicket.

He launched off into the woods from his encampment, up the hill, away from the river and before long was crawling under dense brush and trees.

Just as he entered a small clearing he spotted a small but plump creature seemingly sitting frozen across the clearing.

The rabbit’s eyes seem fixed on something away from Timpoochee. It had not even been moved by the noise created when the would-be hunter crawled through the brush.

Despite his hunger, Timpoochee didn't want to offend the creature or hinder its focus for fear of revenge by its rabbit brothers.

“That is just how the old women have seized Rising Fawn,” he said to himself quietly. “They hold her motionless, waiting for their poison to strike at her feelings.”

But even more than the talk of the Tcki, Timpoochee was disturbed most by realizing he does not know what the old women seem to know. He doesn’t know what his parents - if they are his parents - seem to know but do not say.

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Act 51: I must find the truth... by Steve Hart

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“What does Cornstalk think, really, of all this talk of the old Tcki?” Timpoochee thought to himself as he gazed into the morning fire.

“Maybe that’s why he doesn’t try his hardest to understand the lessons of the Medicine. What do these stories - if they’re true - mean to the future of our people?”

Cornstalk, two years older than Timpoochee, was of course in line first to succeed Yufala as leader. But Timpoochee also recognized Cornstalk to be incapable of leadership. His slowness of mind, his self-centeredness, rendered him incapable. He long ago realized the elders talked much more with him than with Cornstalk.

“The stories have persisted for a very long time,” Timpoochee thought. “I must find the truth and deal with it before another season.

He snuffed his morning fire, restored his campsite and began walking toward the river.

He decided to visit Chota. He would be welcomed there. Perhaps some answers are to be found in that largest of towns.

To get there he would have to cross Long Man at some point. But where? The thought of Uktena weighed heavily in his mind.

He slowly made his way downstream as the mountains around him rose to even greater heights.

A faint noise from upstream caught his attention. A boat, he thought.

Stopping and hiding behind a clump of bushes he waited as the almost imperceptible sound, clearly paddles in the water, drew closer.

As soon as it came into his view Timpoochee recognized the long, slender craft.

“Yufala!” he said out loud.

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Act 52: Timpoochee, my son! by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee recognized his father’s boat immediately upon seeing it, of course. It’s more adorned and colorful than the others, all hallowed out trunks of large trees.

He was suddenly seized with the notion of jumping into the river to meet the water-borne delegation.

Casting off this moccasins and leggings, Timpoochee dove head-first into the river and started swimming toward the approaching boats.

Splashing wildly and making loud noises to attract attention he hoped his father saw him before the Uktena could.

“Timpoochee! My son!” shouted Yufala from the stern of his canoe. “What are you doing in the middle of the river? Are you trying to become a fish? You have not lasted very long without capture!”

From another boat, one of Yufala’s warriors cast to the boy a hemp rope. Timpoochee latched onto it as the warrior pulled him closer.

Climbing up over the gunnel, Timpoochee flopped into the center of Yufala’s boat.

Excited and panting, the boy tried to gain his composure while the delegation of Tsalagi leaders looked over him, perplexed.

“I’m glad to find you, my son,” Yufala said. “I was beginning to get worried. You’ve been gone a day and a night.”

“I’ve been thinking,” Timpoochee replied. “Thinking a lot.”

“I noticed you’ve been spending less time in town and more time in the woods with Rising Fawn,” Yufala said, bluntly. “She is a fine choice, my son, and will bear you good children.”

“Yes, Father,” Timpoochee said. “But I must understand some important things the Medicine has failed to teach me.”

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Act 53: In time you will understand... by Steve Hart

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Yufala was quiet for a while as Timpoochee dried himself in the sun, resting on the floor of his father’s boat.

Timpoochee was quiet, too, as the small flotilla plied its way downstream.

“Where are you going, father?” Timpoochee asked after some time. “May I go with you?”

“We are going to the Yonega town, in the great valley well below Chota,” Yufala answered.

“I want to go with you - to the white man’s town,” Timpoochee blurted.

“The Yonega town is a rough and wild place, my son,” Yufala replied. “I’m not sure it is the place for a young buck. Your place is with the studies of the Medicine and your brother and mother.”

“Please, Ugalu, allow me to go on this journey,” Timpoochee pleaded. “I will not interfere. I must learn what it is about the white man that makes him as he is. I must also start to learn the ways of Yonega.”

Yufala frowned, his heavy eyebrows buried his deep set eyes. For the first time Timpoochee noticed his father appeared to be getting older. He noticed the many lines and wrinkles on a face once smooth as a river pebble.

The great chief was attired in his full trade clothing: breechloth of deep blue, like the coat of the thief bird. He also wore a linen shirt made in the Yonega’s methods. The shirt was a gift from the Yonega leader

Yufala’s neck was adorned with the silver crescents identifying his clan and position in his town. A cluster of eagle feathers was attached to his head by a band of stretched animal skin. The feathers told Yonega he was, indeed, chief of his people and the one to whom all matters of his people should be directed.

“Timpoochee, my son,” Yufala said. “There are many things you must learn. I know why you disappeared two days ago. I know of your confusion and I know why you and Rising Fawn argued.

“In time you will understand the parts of your life which will come together to make you a fine leader of your people.”

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Act 54: There was Uktena... by Steve Hart

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It was the first time Timpoochee ever heard his father suggest he might someday lead his people.

Cornstalk stood in line before Timpoochee. The tall one should be leader before him, despite Cornstalk’s obvious limitations.

“You can go with me to the while man’s settlement,” Yufala said after a while. “Perhaps it is time.”

Timpoocheee settled into the center of the canoe, lying low, being quiet so as to not upset the balance of his father’s offer to have him tag along to the Yonega settlement.

The sun-spirit made its way slowly into the sky vault from the mountain tops over the stern of the boat.

Even though more and more Yonega appeared to be moving into the valleys, mountains and plains of the Tsalagi, few had ventured up Long Man all the way to Timpoochee’s town. The only while men Timpoochee had seen was the party who visited immediately before the great earth-shaking and bear rampage which killed Old Hunter and others.

He held within him many questions about these curious people and many more questions about his origins and his mother’s history.

Timpoochee never ventured as far on Long Man as he would on this trip with his father. He only knew stories of town like Tinase, Citico and Chota, the big town.

He knew stories travelers and hunters told of the thunder boys and bolts of light which showered the great valley beyond the mountains, where the Yonega settlement had been established.

And, of course, there was always Utkena, the water-cougar which controlled a certain territory of Long Man and was said to swim up and down its course.

Legends said Utkena has four legs, no feet, long hair and a long tail, like a fish’s. Other legends describe it has having the body of a death-rattler, only as big as a tree, and deer horns on its head and wings like a bird.

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Act 55: Filled with your spirit... by Steve Hart

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No one in Timpoochee’s clan nor town had ever actually seen the creature, Uktena, but neither did anyone take it for granted.

To guard against an attack, hunters and travelers always carried a Medicine bundle which contained what was said to be shavings from the horns of Uktena mixed with sprigs of cedar and button snakeroot.

The trip toward the white man’s village was mostly toward the north but also bending toward the west, the direction of the moon, the blackness or death.

Tired of his worry and his travels Timpoochee settled into Yufala’s canoe and became drowsy and they moved slowly along Long Man.

He remembered a prayer he’d learned in the study of the Medicine and desperately wanting to rid himself of the confusion in his soul he began chanting the prayer, quietly.

“Thunder, I obey you and you love me for it.

“You feed upon my soul.

“All night long I am filled with your spirit which is like life itself. No evil can come to me.

“Make my consciousness weightless and free, like the movements of the agile insect, the water strider.

“You know I have a duty to perform; to find out something you know of me”

He chanted the prayer and relaxed. Soon he was asleep.

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Act 56: A name is only what you are called... by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee’s peaceful sleep on the floor of his father’s canoe was disturbed by a rustling noise in a tree limb above him and below which the craft was pulled to the shore.

It was the flapping of great wings.

Through is blurred vision, Timpoochee saw what he thought was the long ears and feathered tuft of tskili perched above. Two round eyes stared fire into the night.

He sat up, rubbed his own eyes and gazed again into the tree above him. This time he saw Old Hunter walking along the limb, his hands behind his back. Yufala and the others were nowhere to be found.

“Timpoochee,” the old man addressed the boy from the tree limb. “Or should I call you by the name, ‘Timpoochee Kinnard’?”

“Old Hunter?” the boy called out, rising to his feet. “If that you? Have you come back from the death of the bear?”

Timpoochee suddenly stopped, shocked by what he heard coming from Old Hunter’s mouth.

“Old Hunter, why do you call me Kinnard? You know me. You know my name is Timpoochee, the boy whose skin is the color of clay.”

“I call you by your name,” Old Hunter replied. “By the name given you at your birth.”

“My birth? You know of my birth?”

“Indeed I do, Timpoochee Kinnard, and I know a great many more things.”

“Why did you not tell me of these things in many hours we sat talking over the old days as you visited Grandmother Ama? You do not know by name. You are only a dream. Be gone and let me sleep.”

The old man laughed, a loud screeching laugh which filled the forest for its eerie cry.

“Why do you laugh, Old Hunter?” Timpoochee was hurt, confused. “And do not call me by that name.”

“A name is only what your are called, young one,” said the old man, quietly. “You call me Old Hunter but is that what I am?”

“I don’t understand, old friend. But if you have news to tell me, please, tell me that I might resume my sleep.”

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Act 57: His heart suddenly chilled... by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee awakened at the first rays of the sun, brought out of his restless sleep by the rude screeching of martins as they circled back and forth, scooping unsuspecting bugs from the chilled morning air.

The sky was clear with only a hint of cloud way off in the direction of the Yonega settlement. It was that season of new leaves and fresh odors and mild winds.

Despite the pleasant morning, Timpoochee soon remembered his troubles. The name, “Kinnard,” kept repeating itself in his head.

His heart suddenly chilled as the glanced to the ground near the canoe’s bow to discover an owl’s feather lying on the ground.

The feather shocked his brain, too.

“Old Hunter was here last night,” he said remembering his dream. Or whatever it was.

Without thinking another thought, Timpoochee jumped from the canoe and into the river to immerse himself, to purify the spirit that last night was haunted by the vision and the news it carried.

Not even bothering to remove his leggings or breechcloth, he dove into the water, repeating a prayer for purification in his head.

Into the water, again and again he dove, trying to wipe clean the memory of the vision and its message.

It was no use. Old Hunter told him the truth and he knew it. Still, to believe it shocked his very soul.

“If what Old Hunter spoke is true I cannot return to the village and live as a member of a family and a people to which I don’t belong,” he said to himself.

“My life will be a cruel trick. The entire town must know the truth yet the one about whom the truth is known does not even understand that truth.”

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Act 58: Like a lightning bolt... by Steve Hart

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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.

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Act 59: More confused than ever... by Steve Hart

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Timpoochee contemplated all he had witnessed in the short time since the moon last appeared as he quietly slipped back to his father’s canoe and stretched out.

The spirit meaning of his vision seemed clear. The spirit meaning of the snake and rabbit confused him following Old Hunter’s visit.

He found himself more confused than ever. He closed his eyes and soon fell asleep again.

 

Timpoochee awoke some time later and realized the sun was high in the sky. His father’s canoe was once again gliding effortlessly along Long Man. Yufala and the rest of the flotilla continued the course toward the Yonega settlement.

He said nothing as he sat up, looked at his father who in return smiled warmly but also said nothing.

Timpoochee looked around him and realized Long Man had grown wider, smoother. The tall peaks and hemlock forests had been replaced by sloping, rounded hills, pine groves and meadows of flowers.

A great blue bird of slow wing, knasgowa, took flight ahead of the flotilla. Timpoochee knew those graceful creatures hold some mystical power and realized they received it from the slow, rolling land and river in which he found himself.

The whole scene gave Timpoochee a strange peace for a moment. But his heart was soon telling him something different. It held the fear that some evil was working somewhere, something over which he had no control.

No, he thought to himself. It’s only the unfamiliar surroundings, legend this land holds, the nearing presence of Yonega.

No harm can come to me. I know too much of the Medicine already. I can protect myself.

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Act 60: A young buck like this... by Steve Hart

ShaconageAct60 - Edited.jpg

“Shut up, yer slimy little red one,” growled the sailor. “Or we’ll feed you to that monster, we will! Why, I bet that monster just loves to feed on little red boys.”

He held Timpoochee by his ankles over the side of the boat. Dangling upside down.

Just then another voice rose from below decks on the big Yonega boat.

“‘Ey, Smitty!” called the voice. “What’s all the ruckus about up there?”

Like a bird, the voice’s head popped up through a hatch to see Smitty dangling the clay colored boy over the side.

“‘Ello, whot’s 'is now?” said the queer, skinny little white man.

“We got us a little red one here, Poker. Pro’bly came aboard to see what he could steal from the big ship.”

“Well, I’ll be damned,” Poker responded. “What’ll we do with the little bastid to trying to run off with some of our booty?”

Smitty looked over at the six manacled slaves who were watching all the action with eyes like saucers.

“Ya know, each one of them, there, cost ‘is majesty’s crown about 600 pounds on the open market,” Smitty said, pointing at Timpoochee suddenly. “I’ll be if we played our cards right we could get a tidy sum for a young buck like this in New Orleans or Havana.”

Timpoochee was nearly in shock from fright.

“Ay, I bet you’re right at that, Smitty,” chimed in Poker. “That could set us up for life and we could get off this bloody ship for good.”

“Whacha mean, ‘we,’ yer thievin’ bloke? I’m the one what’s got the blinkin’ red in me ‘ands.”

The sailor suddenly threw Timpoochee across the deck in the direction of the black slaves.

Timpoochee shook his rattled head. The entire ship smell rank, musty, spoiled. Timpoochee could hardly breath. He wanted to heave. His stomach growled as he turned away from the fat, smelly sailor.

Just as he moved he felt a swift kick to his butt. The pain shot right through to his head.

In his daze, Timpoochee thought he caught a glimpse of Cornstalk hiding in the bushes at the edge of the river. He was just kneeling there, watching.

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