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A Ghostly Tale...Part VI..
By Claywoman
Tuesday, June 04, 2002

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The night was silent except for the soft padding of moccasins upon the earth; stars seemed so close you could reach up and grab a handful and take them home. The young warrior knew where he was heading for the starlight showed enough of the landscape to keep him centered. Once in a while he adjusted the load on his back but he kept running. This time he was running to something rather then away from something. This made his journey seem easier. Before the night was half over he’d covered many miles bringing him closer to his family and his life. He kept his pace because of the night animals, the meat eaters, he knew if he stopped for any length of time they would attack him for his load. The landscape changed and he found himself in the place of oldness. He was following an ancient riverbank long gone; yet if someone needed water all they needed to do was dig and water would be theirs.

The ancient stories listened to around campfires came back to him. He remembered the ancient ones had once lived close to this river, which flowed mightily and tumbled over the boulders now lying fallow. Fish swam in these waters and life was good for the river people. They lived in the cliffs surrounding this place in sturdy homes and their fires lit the night as welcomed beacons to lost travelers. But all that changed quickly, too quickly. The young warrior paused here knowing he needed water to finish his travels so he picked a spot knowing the Creator would provide water. He gently put down his load and stood for a moment to look around for danger. Ignoring the pain in his back, he squatted down and started digging. While he dug the story continued in his mind, the story of the lost water.

Once this place had been fertile and rich with abundance. The Creator smiled upon the people who lived here in this place. Their crops grew lushly and fed the people with enough to feed strangers who happened upon this place. The people grew too confident though and stopped doing some of their ceremonies thanking the Creator, to teach these people a small lesson, the Creator withheld the rains for one growing season and the people grew hungry. Some sickened and died, children used to food grew thin with the fat bellies of hunger. The people grew angry with the Creator and turned away from him. Several of the young warriors left to find food in the herds that roamed the grassy places. Taking with them the travois to carry home the food, they set out without looking back.

They walked for many, many days to the place of the grasses and looked for the herds that walked the world in blackness. Each brought with them as many arrows and spears as they could carry for they knew it took many to bring down one of the ponderous beasts. They searched for signs of the migration and the best place to hunt them. They picked a lazy river where the beasts seem to water. Close to this spot was a high cliff where they could run the herd over and kill them that way. It was there they camped and there they changed their lives forever.

The warriors patiently waited in this spot for several days, subsisting on the fish that swam in some of the pools. Then the ground rumbled and shook with the sounds of many trampling hooves. The warriors took cover away from the danger of the trampling herd. These were not the bison of today but the beasts of the ancient times. Their fur was long and coarse and hung to the ground, they had tusks as long as a man is tall, and they had a wild look in their eyes. These beasts would feed their people for several months, the meat once dried would last a long time. There was a small cry of a bird and you could see the grasses parting slowly as the men took position to cut off one or two of the beasts. When they were as they should be, one of the warriors let out a blood-curdling scream, which spooked the entire herd. The ones they wanted tried to go with the pack but found their way blocked by small yet threatening men. The beasts turned abruptly and fled in the direction the men wanted. Their feet flew until they came to the edge of the abyss and then over to their deaths. The men saw they’d succeeded and rejoiced.

The warriors carefully climbed down the rocky surface of the cliff, careful not to fall themselves yet quickly enough to keep the meat eaters from getting the hunt. Then they made their biggest mistake, instead of offering prayers to thank the animals for their sacrifice, the hungry men set to work skinning and cutting the meat to take home. Each of the warriors cut out the heart of the animals and ate it therefore taking the strength of the animal. Many hours passed while they worked, they hurried because they heard the cries of the wolves in the distance waiting their turn at the carcasses.

The wolves knew they couldn’t attack the armed men but restlessly paced the ground near the kills. The smell of fresh blood drove them to a little crazy and some tried to charge the men, but those were quickly rebuffed and one killed. The now dead wolf was one who wouldn’t learn the ways of the pack, he was always a rebel and never listened to the voice of the more experienced. His death became a life’s lesson to the young who waited with the elders for their turn to eat.

The men finished their job and took with them all the meat they could carry. Each warrior took up his burden made lighter by the travois and slowly walked from the canyon and walked toward their homes. When the men left, the wolves moved in to eat the abundance left by the two-legged ones.

The walk toward home was slower then the walk to the hunting place. The warriors would stop now and then to adjust their packs or to drink water. Then the sky became alive with birds flying in fear. Their voices rose in alarm, the birds with talons flew near the seedeaters yet did not attack them. Then the sound came, unlike any sound any of the warriors remembered and it hurt their ears. Just before the ground moved, they saw dust obliterate the sun and the day became night. Then they felt the movement, sharp and terrible, knocking the men to the ground and upsetting their travois and spilling their loads. The warrior knew about the ground shakes but none ever felt it so violent. The earth trembled again, this time much harder; cracks opened up like a mouth ready to swallow up anything it could. It took into itself one of the warriors; his screams could be heard as he fell. Two of the travois also went into the maw before another tremor closed it forever. The warriors clutched handfuls of earth hoping just to survive this catastrophe. Then as quickly as it started, it stopped. The birds again flew to the safety of the trees left standing and again the meat eating birds hunted the seedeaters. The warriors rose from the ground and looked around at some of the destruction. Trees older then the tribe lay uprooted the home of the small creatures destroyed. The men talked and realized why the earth shake happened. They’d forgotten, they knew what they did was wrong; yet, no amount of sorrow could erase this wrong. They hurried home to see if the shake hit their village high in the cliffs.

When they came to familiar places, some of their landmarks were gone; the earth shake reached even their homes. They gasped when discovering they were walking near the river and yet no sound of water greeted them. Walking closer to the bank they saw the reason, the river was no more! Fish flopped around trying to find the fluid that gave them breath; all were dying and some dead. The men gathered as many as they could for drying, this would be the last fish they’d see from this place. When their job was finished they walked with resolve home. They feared what they would find and then saw it was true . The cliff that housed them for many years collapsed, their homes, their families were all gone. The only survivors were those women and children who were away from the cliff and down at the river bathing, getting water, or tending the crops.

The men dropped their loads and looked around in astonishment and great sadness. A cry of despair rose from their lips. They had no homes, no families, no one except this small handful of people out of the hundreds that once lived in this place of abundance. The food they were once so proud to carry, lay on the ground for the ants to feast upon.

The young warrior knew the stories but he also knew that if you dug a small hole deep into the sand of the old riverbank, you could find water. He wondered what happened to those people who ignored tradition, where did they go? Did they survive? He would never know the answers, some may have been the start of his own tribe and the others, they may have become enemies but only the Creator knows. All he knew is the time of the earth shakes seldom occurred and never as strong as the one that lost the river.

After drinking his fill he continued on his journey, the end was in sight he could finally see the fires of home.

The young woman stirred in her sleep as the longing of her young loins stirred up memories of her husband so far from her grasp. She sighed and rolled over, a tear escaped the corner of her eyes and she continued in this dream, a dream as endless as her quest.

Finding himself at the bottom of the endless ladders, he once more shifted his burden and started up the endless rungs. When he reached the top, he went quietly to his home, the home of his wife and child. Dropping the young antelope outside the door, he pushed aside the covering and saw his wife looking at him with tears in her eyes. She awoke when he dropped the antelope, she hoped and prayed it was he although her head told her he wouldn’t be back. When the covering pushed inward she allowed herself to hope again. When she saw him, she cried because she knew her heart was answered. Seeing her tears, he dropped to his knees and enveloped her once more in his arms. Gently lifting her up he rose and carried her outside where they could talk. Unbeknownst to them both other eyes watched this scene and then closed when they left. Her mother turned over and went back to sleep knowing her daughter had chosen the right man, a good man.

To be continued in part VII…

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Reviewed by Judith Bailey 6/17/2003
Yes! Someone mentioned Goodness... and it is truth.
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 6/16/2003
i like your writing
Reviewed by Amor Sabor 6/30/2002
all the necessary ingredients fell together and detailed much better here without bogging down at all. Fantastic story running closer to an account.
Reviewed by Joel Young 6/13/2002
Clay, great descriptions, details of day to day and homelife. Without utterances of words, there's goodness on these pages. Well done! :)
Reviewed by Lawrance Lux 6/9/2002
Excellent, with good match of history and storyline
Reviewed by Roger Nelson 6/5/2002
Another great story and sideline. I patiently await your next installment. Thanks for the email.
Reviewed by Roger Nelson 6/4/2002
Eyieeee-Claywoman, this is so capturing! I loved it. You have described so well what is going on in the minds of your characters that the writing took me right into the story. I loved reading it!
Reviewed by James Samdavid1 6/4/2002
Hey Darling. Thank you for sending me the email so I could read this wonderful write of yours. I think that you have a winner here. Good luck to you and good writting! SD1
Reviewed by Sonya Henderson 6/4/2002
This part of the story is one that all should pay close attention to. Great! S

Return of the Canoe Societies: Second Edition by Rosemary Patterson

A riveting Literary History and adventure novel that celebrates the cultural resurgence of Coastal First Nations peoples...  
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Return of the Canoe Societies: Second Edition by Rosemary Patterson

A riveting Literary History and adventure novel that celebrates the cultural resurgence of Coastal First Nations peoples...  
Featured BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

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