Manly Wade Wellman - Novel 1953

Manly Wade Wellman - Novel 1953 by The Last Mammoth (v1.1) Read Free Book Online

Book: Manly Wade Wellman - Novel 1953 by The Last Mammoth (v1.1) Read Free Book Online
Authors: The Last Mammoth (v1.1)
things I was taught by the wise men of my own
people. This is the truth: among the white men, a warrior does not often speak
of his own strength and wisdom. It is the way of white men to let those things
talk for themselves. If a white man praises his own bravery too much, his
people think him proud and foolish.”
                Woodpecker drew thoughtfully on his
pipe, considering Sam’s words for a long, silent moment. Finally he spoke
again.
                “White warrior, you make things
clear,” he said, with an almost fatherly kindness. “Perhaps it is good for you
to come here, to another people. You can learn our customs and follow them. We
will try to know your customs, too. What you tell us about this strange
custom—keeping silent about your own bravery— makes me
think that you only tried to make it seem a small thing to save Otter’s life—”
                “It was not a small thing,”
interrupted Otter, forgetting his own manners.
                “No,” agreed the chief. “Otter is a
good hunter and a brave warrior. It was not a bad thing, or a small one, to
save his life. Now you understand. When you pretend that you did not act
bravely or wisely when you saved his life, it is as though you say that his life
is worth only a little.”
                “I followed the teachings of my own
people,” Sam pleaded again.
                “We know that now,” Woodpecker said
encouragingly. “My brothers, the wise men here in this council, know that.” He
raised his voice. “Is that not so?”
                “It is so,” they boomed out, all
together.
                But Eagle Wing, the medicine man,
tightened his lips and gazed fixedly at the white youth. Perhaps, thought Sam,
he was displeased that a stranger had been brought to Twilight Town , with a rifle and other strange powers that
he, Eagle Wing, did not understand.
                Woodpecker rose, slowly and
painfully. He braced himself on his crippled leg and gathered his robe around
him.
                “We welcome our friend, the white
hunter, who is a brother to Otter,” he declared.
                “Ahi” agreed a member of the
council. “He is welcome.”
                “He is welcome,” repeated the
others. “He is welcome.”
                “And we are glad that he is here to
help us with his fire-weapon,” went on Woodpecker. “He will be like one of us.
And now it is nearly noon . Let the women bring food.”
                THE MEAL brought in by the chiefs
command was really a banquet. There were big platter-shaped slabs of bark,
heaped high with roast fish and venison. Corn bread was hot and plentiful, in
huge round loaves. The women passed it out to the members of the council, and
then .brought gourd bowls full of something white and creamy.
                 

Chapter 6
     
                 

 
                Sam knew what that stuff was. He had
seen it and once or twice had eaten it, in Cherokee villages near Brooke’s
Fort. The women pounded up nuts, shells and all, and soaked them in fresh
water. When the bits of shell sank to the bottom, the top of the water showed
covered thickly with white cream. Skimmed off, this could be used like butter.
                He dipped chunks of corn bread into
the sweet nut cream and ate them. Woodpecker gestured to two of the women, who
came to Sam and offered more meat and bread. Sam knew that he must make an
effort to eat a vast quantity—it would not do to be discourteous now, after he
had been so thoughtlessly modest about saving Otter’s life and had been kindly
rebuked by the chief of Twilight Town .
                Nobody talked during the meal.
Cherokees felt that eating was so serious and important a business that it
should take a man’s entire attention. Sam was glad of this, because he

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