A Shipment Gone Array (Part X)
Everyone was smiling as I came onto shore, they patted me lightly as we made our way to the camp. After we went through a small patch of trees on a well-worn path, we emerged into a large clearing with wooden houses and what looked like a 16th century village. Kids were gawking and running alongside the ground, teens were staring and whispering to each other, people looked up from their tasks as they watched me walk into town.
They lead me to a hut made different from the ones I had walked into, it looked like an aboriginal hut, and so did the others behind it. Out walked an older man, he was still robust and lean, but his age was starting to show. With his face starting to wrinkle and his long dark hair starting to show streaks of grey, he looked like a Native chief.
His smile was warm as he helped me into the hut, it held nothing that would have been seen before the Europeans can across the Atlantic. There I was laid out on a rough table covered with a single pelt of soft golden spotted fur, which I soon learned was a hybrid lynx-cougar, one of the largest predatory cats around now.
My soaking shirt and pants was pulled off after he left, leaving me with a bra-like garment to cover up my chest with a blanket over the rest of me. Six women soon filled what I found out was a wigwam. The women weren’t all natives, some were white-skinned but as they explained they had chosen the way of life as the Snake People, the ones who used to inhabit the Yellowstone plateau before the 1800s.
“Things have changed, and we must change too. The others, the ones that live in their cabins, don’t see that nature did this, and in order to live with nature we must revert to the ways nature intended. We do that to be safe, but we must stay close, our numbers are not strong enough to fend off the beasts that now lurk.” An older native woman, one who seemed to be directing the other five, told me.
“Are there more of us?” I asked her, the women smiled at me.
“We have spread out, so that there are less people in one area, and each of the communities is separated into tribe and village.” One of the younger women told me, she was light-skinned.
“Word has already spread to the others about your arrival. Most people will be thrilled.” A native woman told me, she was pretty enough, he long black hair in a braid that caught the light.
“Yeah, but the Blackfoot won’t be so happy. She’ll be lucky if they don’t stick a tomahawk in her back within a week.” Another added in, she had a bronzed-tone to her skin and dark hair.
“I’d shoot an arrow into them before they got that close.” I told them, I really was quite skilled in archery, a little hobby of mine that I loved. They all giggled, but soon stopped as the hand of the old woman came up.
“You were chosen for a reason, and you will live for that very same reason. Now, we must hold you still, your ribs are cracked, and we must bind them tightly. No shooting arrows for the week, which means no tomahawks either. Save that for when you are fully healed.” She told me, and so it had begun, they sat me up and bound my ribs tightly, I could only draw a breath so far before it constricted and hurt. I was laid down again, the women left and soon returned with combs, water, beads and strips of leather.
They took to the task of washing out my hair and the smell of the lake that clung to it, once that was done they looked down at my hair.
“It’s so thick!” one exclaimed, running her hands through the wet mass.
“That color.” The ‘bell cow’ of the group said in admiration. The one that seemed to have the lead say, like the cows that had the bell that called all the others to follow. She must have been commenting on the ruddy brown of it, something I wasn’t totally proud of. It reminded me of dirt.
“And it curls nicely.” Another told me.
Savagely would be my choice of word.
“Braid it.” They all said together, and then started giggling. So they set to the task, and soon the curling mass was secured tightly with a few beads woven into the top and leather strips to finish it off. They looked down at their work and smiled.
“I can’t say this has ever happened to me.” I said, looking down at my hair. It was always brown when it was soaked with water, only showing the ruddiness in the faintest of highlights. I flipped it back over my shoulder, pondering what I could do. I knew I’d need something to wear first, seeing as my shirt was soaked. So were my pants, and I’d need something to replace those, so I asked about it.
“Oh, well… You are pretty tall.” Said the bell girl Breanne, pursing her lips.
“And your legs are so long.” Commented another, the light-skinned Alisha. As if I hadn’t figured that out, it was so hard finding clothes after the hand-me-downs didn’t cut it in leg length.
“I’ve got it!” exclaimed the bronzed girl, who was named Sonya. “Why don’t we just give her some of the men’s clothes? It was what she was brought here wearing. Dezmond is about the same height, and he has legs too.”
“Y’know, Sonya has a point. And I’m sure he wouldn’t mind, he was asking about the people coming this morning. Before he went off with the hunting party.” The native woman with the braid, Aaliyah, commented.
“My brother will mind, but I’ll get some anyways.” Hannah, the shyest of the group, left the wigwam and returned minutes later with a pair of jeans, a worn-out t-shirt and a pair of sandals.
They helped me dress, the jeans were a new thing to me though. After all that was finished they helped me up and took me out to the divide between the tribe and the village. It was nothing really noticeable, only a faint change between the stoned pathway and dirt trail, but what it signified was the difference of two ways of life.