Thursday, February 28, 2013

“Indian Shout”
By Madeline Fiol

Pa sauntered into the cabin room and shouted, “We are leaving!”
Ma stared up at him, her eyes full of tears, but she nodded. 
“Indians are coming,” Pa kicked the chair with the toe of his foot.
I knew we could not stay.
“Abigail, go pack your bags,” Pa told me. “We leave in the morning.”
I escaped to my attic room determined not to cry. Why were the Indians coming?  In those few moments alone, I had to decide what to do. I knew one thing, the new twin babies would likely not survive the journey. I could not stay to watch. Tonight I planned to find the enemy.
When Ma and Pa had finally stopped talking to each other and fallen asleep, I sneaked downstairs and out the cabin door. That night was cold and dark, but I knew the land by memory. I also knew the Indians were not far away. In a knapsack I carried my red hair ribbon, ten pearl buttons I had torn from my old Sabbath dress, and some red yarn. I knew the Indians liked presents. As I trotted through the forest, I remembered the many other times I had gone to visit my Indian friends. Tonight I worried the Indians would not be so friendly. I hoped for the best. 
A twig snapped. I turned around to face a giant Indian warrior. He grunted. His black eyes were shining. My hands trembled as I held up my Indian bracelet to prove to him I had come before. He lowered his spear and squinted at me. Finally he led me to his village. I had been there many time. It was so different. I could hardly tell it was the same place. It was bare and small. Skinny Indians huddled together around the camp fire. When they saw me, they surrounded me. At last the old Indian, Anuj, came up. He was the only one in his tribe who could speak English. 
“Singing Girl, why have you come?” He asked me using his nickname for me though his face was stern and unkind.
“Anuj, I came to ask you questions. I need your help,” I said. “Why are you driving my family east? I thought you said your tribe were our friends!”
Anuj frowned, “My tribe is starving and dying because white men have come and taken our land and our meat.”
“Anuj, my family is not strong enough to travel. I have two new baby sisters who will most likely not survive the trip. Can you help?” I pleaded. “You promised me you were my friend. I love this land and it is my home.”
“Stay, Singing Girl, stay with us! We will make sure no harm comes to Singing Girl,” declared Anuj.
I had wanted to be an Indian since I was young, but now given the choice I only shook my head and murmured, “I have a family that I rely on. I cannot leave them. Can you help them?”
“Ten moons,” shouted Anuj. “They can stay for ten moons.” 
I nodded, “Thank you, Anuj.”
Then I opened my knapsack and gave him the ribbon, buttons, and yarn whispering, “Gifts!”
We talked for a long time by the fire. He told me of all his tribe had gone through. He described the sickness and hunger they had endured. I told him of my new sisters. I did not tell him about my fear of leaving home to go east. I knew he would not like it.
When it was time to leave, Anuj went with me to tell my parents that we could stay a little longer. He gave me a necklace and told me I was a good girl. The sun was coming up casting shimmering reflections on my beads. Soon we could see my tiny cabin up on the hill. Yet when I went inside the rooms were empty. My family was gone. They had left.
“They went without me!” I shrieked.
“Do not worry, Singing Girl, you will come to live with me!” reassured Anuj. 
I did not listen, I could not. I started running. I had to catch them before they left me forever. Soon I heard panting breathes beside me. It was Anuj.
“Where are you going?” he demanded.
I did not slow down, “I have to catch them before they leave!”
Now I was passing Whitman’s farm. They were our closest neighbors. I stopped. There was no way I could catch up. They were gone.
“Abigail? Is that you?”  Mrs.Whitman called. 
I twirled around to see her staring at me, with a basket of clothes ready to be washed at the creek balanced on her hip. 
“Yes, ma’am,” I said.
“You have got plenty of explaining to do!” cried Mrs.Whitman stomping her foot. “Well, do not stare at me. Go up to the house and explain where you have been. Your parents were so crazy with worry they came down to our place looking for you.”  

The End 


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