I’ve already said I’m doing a sequel for NANOWRIMO this year. This week I finished the submission draft of the first book! And I’m working on a non-fiction project, which has just gotten restructured (for the second time…). I’m dazed and confused at the moment.
So, instead of trying to hammer together something pithy and meaningful while not quite here, I thought I’d share more from the first book (and a character who may have grown since this chapter, but definitely has some growing up to do in book two…) As usual, the writing presented is my work and protected by my copyright.
Chief in training
“Mother,” Fox Boy said, “Father said I had to stay inside yesterday. He didn’t say anything about today.”
Lana Ka Mana’olana kept one eye on Fox Boy and the other on Faun, who was gathering up the breakfast dishes. She’ll get to go out again…
“Fox Boy,” his mother said, “Your father said you are to remain in the tent until called for.”
There was no point in arguing. He did say that. He said I have to stay in the tent. Fox Boy blinked. “Mother?”
“Yes, Fox Boy?”
“Can we tie the tent flap open?” Fox Boy asked, “And get some air in here?”
His mother watched him as she thought. “Will you be able to keep yourself inside if we open the flap?”
“Yes.” I’ll stay inside. But no one said I couldn’t sit at the door. Then I can at least see part of what’s going on.
Lana Ka Mana’olana sighed. “I’ll open the flap.”
“I can do it,” Fox Boy said.
“Fox Boy.” His mother smiled at him. “We both know that when you tie the tent flap open you have to step out of the tent. I’m already being nice enough by letting you sit at the door and look out.”
I tried. Fox Boy waited until his mother had the tent flap open before moving.
“Remember to stay inside the flap,” his mother said.
“Yes mother.” At least I can see out now. Fox Boy sat cross legged at the mouth of the tent and looked out. Too bad all the interesting things are happening on the other side of the camp.
Fox Boy sat and watched.
One of the hunters walked past, not even noticing him.
A gaggle of girls passed by. Two detached from the group. Morning Cloud and Berry Flower… They stopped right in front of the tent.
They looked at him and smiled. Morning Cloud whispered. Berry Flower shoved her. They giggled, then ran to catch up to their friends.
A woman with two braids passed by as if he wasn’t there. I think she’s from the Secret Valley band. So, at least that’s something interesting.
One of the camp dogs stopped to sniff the air. It shook itself, then sniffed a tent peg.
Maybe I should just shut the flap and be bored. No. That would feel too much like mother won. She sort of did already. She knew I wanted to sit here and look out. Fox Boy almost stood up.
“I’m telling you, that’s the rule!”
What’s Elk Chaser angry about?
“No it isn’t.” Hammer Stone’s voice was a little deeper and even louder than Elk Chaser’s.
He’s never been good at staying quiet.
“That’s why I said we should ask Fox Boy,” Rabbit Skinner said, “He’ll definitely know.”
“That’s true,” Hammer Stone said.
“He’ll tell you I’m right,” Elk Chaser said.
The boys hustled into view, trading glares and snarls. Rabbit Skinner pointed at Fox Boy and the others turned to look.
“Tell Hammer Stone I’m right,” Elk Chaser demanded.
“Tell him I’m right,” Hammer stone said.
Hammer stone wasn’t as tall as Elk Chaser, but he was thicker and had more muscle. Both boys were almost twelve and looked like they were twelve already. The last traveling merchant through here thought Elk Chaser was thirteen.
“Fox Boy,” Rabbit Skinner said, “These two are arguing over the horse rule.”
Again? Fox Boy sat up straighter. He folded his arms and tried to put on the face his father wore at council fires, the one that reminded others that Alaka’i Kupa’a was high chief, the one that reminded them Alaka’i Kupa’a was in charge.
“What’s your disagreement,” Fox Boy asked.
Hammer Stone pointed at Elk Chaser and said, “He says my father can’t give me a horse after I get my name.”
Elk Chaser nodded. “Once he has his name, Hammer’s a man of the tribe. And we all know a man of the tribe can’t ride another man’s horse.”
“It wouldn’t be another man’s horse if father gives it to me,” Hammer Stone said.
Rabbit Skinner shook his head.
“You can’t just give a horse,” Elk chaser said, “Nobody can, that’s Raven law.”
“Your father and mine traded horses just yesterday,” Stone Hammer said.
“Traded,” Elk Chaser said.
“Traded.” Stone Hammer nodded a big nod. “They each gave the other a horse.”
“No, they exchanged horses,” Elk Chaser said, “That’s different. Tell him, Fox Boy.”
They all looked at him, expecting an answer.
Fox Boy took a long breath before speaking. Father waits before speaking in council. So does Old Storm Cloud. “Your fathers,” Fox Boy said, “traded horses. They each had one to start with and swapped.”
“Exactly,” Elk Chaser said, “That’s different from giving a horse to someone who doesn’t have one.”
Fox Boy nodded.
Hammer Stone turned slightly and curled his nose. “So how am I supposed to get a horse?”
“You know that,” Elk Chaser said, “You have to be fast like me. Or smart like Fox Boy and Rabbit Skinner.”
“Being fastest doesn’t always get you a horse,” Fox Boy said. Not unless you run faster than horses do. “Hammer Stone could take one from the city folk. They tie their horse up at night.”
Hammer Stone and Rabbit Skinner both nodded.
“The City Folk are trying to steal the valley lands,” Fox Boy said, “So it’s fair.”
“So, all I have to do is find some city folk,” Hammer stone said, “Then sneak in and take one.”
“That’s what Elk Chaser’s planning to do,” Rabbit Skinner said, “So am I.”
“But I sneak better than you do,” Elk Chaser said.
“We’ll see.” Hammer Stone smiled. “We’ll see.”
“We will,” Fox Boy agreed, “But we’re going to have to get our names first.
“Uh huh…” Hammer Stone smiled and frowned at the same time. “When do you think that will be Fox Boy?”
Fox Boy felt his mother’s eyes on him.
Father and Old Storm Cloud never said they were going to call us to the council. Got to say something. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked mother to open the tent flap. Fox Boy grouped Elk Chaser, Stone Hammer, and Rabbit Skinner together with his eyes. “That’s a decision for our fathers and the shamans.”
“And they’re meeting right now,” Rabbit Skinner said.
“They are,” Fox Boy said, “And we’ll have adult names as soon as they decide.” Whenever that is…