CHAPTER SEVEN Dinner Party Stuber 7.1
Fawn and Bobbing Tail were in constant contact with JRR Tolkien, Big Deer and Wide Hawk who were picked by the two to lead the investigation of Running Bear’s murder. Fawn wanted to have one of the guests in on the investigation, her mother did not. So far it wasn’t going very well. They were all susceptible to rumors and the relatives leaned toward the notion that Catherine the Great was responsible. The tribe was blaming Running Bear’s death, the war party, the lack of rain and the chaos on the dinner party invitees.
Wide Hawk, the medicine man and soothsayer approached Bobbing Tail in three feathers, a death mask carved from maple and painted red and blue. He carried a stick that had a small wooden basket on the end. The basket was filled with seeds and two dried horse-chestnuts. It made a loud noise as he shook the evil sadness away from Bobbing Tail. He howled and she shuttered. She turned to Fawn.
Bobbing Tail: Your father is dead, it is the fault of these visitors, I forbid you to associate with them in any way.
Fawn: Dad is dead and all you can talk about is the people from the future!?
Bobbing Tail: Where were you when Flying Owl announced that your father had been murdered?
Fawn: I was around on the other side of the hill. Jeanne came up to tell me about it.
Garcia: She was explaining the wonders of nature that I rarely had time to enjoy in my life.
Garcia failed to conceal the peace pipe he had brought down the hill with him.
Bobbing Tail: You were smoking from your father’s sacred pipe?”
BT: And you were alone with this man Garcia?
Fawn couldn’t come up with a lie. If her conniving rival Gull Feather found out about her affair with Garcia, she would use it as a jumping off point for a new round of one-upsmanship. Gull Feather’s parents would be happy to see her in a relationship with one of the guests. It would give them a level of social prominence they had not yet attained. Her little dalliance with Nostradamus, of all people, would propel her at the same rate Fawn’s affair, if learned about, would sink Fawn’s entire family. Both results completely determined by their parents reaction to their love.
News of Running Bear’s death would not slow down the rivalry.
BT: You will have a lot to answer for. We told you not to associate with these demon gods. Your father had taken up with Catherine, and that got him killed. Do you understand me? Your father is dead because of these people, and while he was suffering at the hands of his murderers, you were sneaking around making a blaspheme with your fathers sacred pipe!
Fawn: I’m sorry mother. I will make up for it. We need the condolence of the whole tribe, and I think Garcia can help us feel better too.
BT: We aren’t going to welcome him to our house.
Fawn: What if I fell in love with him?
BT: I know this is the summer of your adventures, but if he was the first man you had love-play with, I won’t let you into my house anymore either!
Fawn: Dad is dead mom, dad is dead!
BT: Oh god, what are we going to do?
Fawn: Let Wide Hawk work his magic. We will recover from this mom.
Fawn was stuck in the middle of trying to help her mother, trying to save her love of Garcia, and keeping the gossip down to a dull roar.
Any sign of weakness with her mother would be quickly spread by Gull Feather along the grapevine. All the excitement that would have surrounded her sexual debut was diminished then trampled upon. Surely, the tradition of condolence would prevail, but you know how teenage rivalries can transcend anything.
Wide Hawk approached Bobbing Tail and the throng of saddened Haudenosaunee. This time he carried a cane. The cane was marked with fifty pegs. Each peg represented a chief of a clan within their respective tribes. Running Bear was not just chief of the Turtle clan of the Onondowagas, he also was the chief of the entire Haudenosaunee. This meant a Big Condolence was in order. A big condolence required 15 strings of wampum to be laid across the cane. The more important the leader, the larger the ceremony.
Wide Hawk started the ceremony with a roll call of the chiefs. He then set about the business of having the entire tribe express condolence to Bobbing Tail and Fawn.
Wide Hawk: With this piece of wampum I wash away your tears. Tears muddy your sight and leave us with a saddened mother and daughter. We are here to help you feel better so you can be useful to your people again. Here is the story of
how our league was put together: You know the Onondowagas fought with the Mohawks and the Cayugas, the Oneidas and the Onondagas. The Peacemaker and Ayonwatha encouraged your tribe to join a group that would bring peace to this entire region. Once your group joined, the league was complete, and the hard work of women like yourself has made the Haudenosaunee a strong group of humans.
Bobbing Tail and Fawn sat silently as Wide hawk continued his talk. Others in the tribe were still crying. Some men sat in awe. Others wondered who the women would nominate to be the next chief. The guests respected the ceremony that was taking place. Tad and Marley realized that the natives weren’t about to let them in on any of their secrets, but for some reason they were allowed to witness this ceremony.
Wide Hawk: Do not lose your mind in the grief of what has happened. No one knows how Running Bear died. The rumor is that he was murdered, but the elders who made the decision to put him in his beloved Ganandauguay told me that they doubt he died a physical death. I believe them, and this whole tribe must believe them too. This is what we do for you, even just for one day.
Bobbing Tail gave an affirmative nod of her head.
Wide Hawk: Your clan, the Turtle clan has given many great things to the Haudenosaunee. It was your clan that created the idea of allowing the warrior chiefs to keep their position in the league. Without that strategy, we would not have been able to add the Onondowagas to the league, and we would have remained at war. Your tribe guards the western door to the league of five nations. We will remain one group and help you through this grief.
Wide Hawk laid another piece of wampum string on the cane.
Wide Hawk: This string represents your need to join your husband in death. it may have been your first grieving response. Do not let your brain go down that path Bobbing Tail. We will help clear your mind with herbal remedies. You have seen these remedies worked before. The first string cleared your eyes from tears, let this string pull your thoughts of suicide into the fire. We will share your burden. Do not let us lose another important member of our family, because this is what we do for you, even just for one day.
Other members of the tribe then laid more sympathy strings, each representing further depths of grief. Flying Owl, the one who still laughed at the love play and romped in the fields, approached with a downward head, in complete
silence. She sat in front of the cane with her legs crossed and held out her hands across the cane. Bobbing Tail reached across the cane and held her hands.
Flying Owl: Your throat is sore with the pain of grief. Your dark days will soon warm to the summer sun. Remember your love, but also remember your daughter, your friends and the important tasks at hand. You will have to guide us women in the selection of a new chief. We must not let the dark thoughts ruin a good crop, a good summer, and the closeness of friendship.
Flying Owl then unclasped her hand and reached for a satchel of herbal remedy.
Flying Owl: You will have no hard throat after drinking this tea. It will leave a good feeling in your belly. We all loved Running Bear, and we love you enough to cuddle around you, make you feel safe from the worries that invade during hard times. Be open to my play. We will smile again together. This whole group wants the best for you. This is what we do for you, even just for one day.
Flying Owl smiled at her friends. Bobbing Tail and Fawn smiled back.
Wide Hawk then told another tale, this time to Fawn, about the early beliefs of the Haudenosaunee.
Wide Hawk: You remember the tale of the large white serpent?
Wide Hawk: Well this tale is different. It is a tale of a young man and his swimming obsession. He had been swimming all his life. He also liked to canoe, not for gathering fish or to go on hunting trips, but just to go out and have fun. The gods would not look merrily on any of this as you know. Once he became a good swimmer, his obsession grew. This young man would jump in the water at first bend and swim across the lake. All by himself mind you! He had no fear of the depths. He had no fear of the serpent, and he had no fear of his fathers wrath that would greet him upon his return. He would jump in the water, swim across the lake, eat a few raspberries, skip a few stones, and swim right back. He did this many days during the summer. Of course the danger of tempting the gods this often need not be dramatized. Luckily, the boy, who was maybe 12 years old this one summer, never ran into a storm. You know that the waves and rain and lightning can kill even a good canoeist, but to be swimming in the middle of the lake during one of these storms would surely mean his death.
His parents warned him about the dangers. They made him work extra hours
tanning hides with the women. They did everything in their power to keep him active, but away from the water. This harbored in him a strong hatred for his parents tactics. He even started to feel resentment at his parents themselves. He no longer felt the need to live by his parents knowledge of the world. he felt he knew more. he felt that because he was such a good swimmer, his talents were closer to the wishes of the gods than his parents’ intentions.
One day, while he was supposed to be helping smash corn for meal, the young boy dashed to the lake and jumped in. The ladies did not run after him, but calmly went to his father and told him what they saw. There was plenty of time to get in a canoe and catch him. The father, sick of the boy’s games, decided to wait for his return rather than wasting good time chasing after him.
Halfway across on his swim, the boy felt the wind bringing up some waves. In fact, many waves were now taller than his head. He couldn’t see which way to swim, and soon enough the rain started to come. At first he panicked, but the boy just kept in his swimming rhythm and fought through the waves. What the boy didn’t know was that he was now swimming the length of the lake rather than across it. He was just about two thirds of the way across to the east side, when the waves, which were now whitecaps, caused him to change direction and head south.
This left him with a 12 mile swim to safety! The women in the camp implored his father to gather a party and search for him. The father, reluctantly said he would go once the thunder gods had stopped the nearby lightning. At this point the boy was near drowning. He started to just tread water, as the clouds thundered and the lightning lit up the sky.
Just as he started to give up hope, he felt a large rock to stand on. He stood there, his heart, leaped for joy, but he could see that he was in the middle of the lake sill. He did not recognize the shoreline. He knew that if he stayed in the water, the lightning had a much better chance of killing him. He was about to leave the rock when the rock lurched upward and threw him into the water.
It was no rock! The head of the serpent first saved him from drowning, then tossed him off, to force him to save himself. The boy quickly started his best swim. He did not think to save his energy this time. He lost his rhythm because he was scared of the lightning and thunder.
His father and the three canoes with him all saw the explosion from their vantage point. They assumed it was lightning hitting the water. They all saw what they thought was lightning, they all saw the boy hurled into the air. They all
paddled toward him with a heavy heart. They were desperately paddling now, because there was only a small chance that he could be saved. As they paddled he swam. They paddled hard, he swam harder. He was looking only at the shore. He didn’t see them coming toward him. he got to the shore and hid from the rain in some trees.
Meanwhile the men continued their search at the point they saw the explosion. They paddled in all four directions from the point, but never found the boy. He was huddled safely in the woods while they were risking their lives to save him out on the open water in lightning.
The men paddled back to the camp at first bend with a sadness in their hearts. They had to tell the women that the boy was dead. The next day a small condolence was held. The mother was so full of grief she jumped into the fire. She was saved, but burned part of her left arm. The scar lasted the rest of her life. About halfway through the ceremony, the boy, having swum back across the lake, sheepishly walked up to the fire. His mother was crying. Others then sat in horror because they thought they were seeing the ghost of the boy.
The boy apologized for causing so much grief, but his mothers scar never healed.
Fawn was smart to realize the shaman was telling her a tale, not of a swimming boy and the serpent, but about why it is important to follow the laws of your parents.
Fawn: So, did the boy learn his lesson, and become more responsible?
Wide Hawk: Actually, he did, but believe it or not, that is not the most important lesson in this tale.
Wide Hawk: No. Are you forgetting the help of the serpent?
Fawn: I would never forget the benevolence of such an awesome beast.
Wide Hawk: The lesson is that sometimes the gods smile at the hard work of a man following his dreams, even if his parents are hurt in the process.
Bobbing Tail quickly understood that the tale was for her benefit more than Fawn’s. She could sense that Wide Hawk knew about her confrontation about Garcia. She knew that the only sensible thing to do would be to let Garcia into the family. But how could she back down without letting her daughter rule the roost?
Wide Hawk sensed the dilemma in Bobbing Tail’s facial contortions.
Wide Hawk: Don’t forget, Fawn, that when you follow your dreams, the
worst that will happen is that you will end up with the spirits who brought you into this earth. The boy followed his dreams and almost died. He came very close to the spirits. So close that they sent the serpent in to save him. Your father had difficult decisions to make. He followed his dreams, and has gone back to the spirits who brought him here. It does not mean that these guests are of a bad mind. The spirits brought them directly into our camp. If they had arrived at the eastern or western edge, we would have had the power to decide whether they were of a mind to be allowed to walk through or visit. because they were dropped right into the middle of our sacred corn festival, it must be that they are important messengers from the gods. Just because your father is dead, does not mean that the gods are all bad.
Fawn smiled. She knew Garcia was of a good heart.
Bobbing Tail: Send Garcia to me.
Wide Hawk at first hesitated.
Wide Hawk: Are you sure you want him in your innermost circle?
Bobbing Tail: No. Let me ask Fawn. What do you say daughter?
Fawn: I say he is a friend, and will help us through our grief.
Bobbing Tail: He has a peaceful mission, I like his spiritual contact. Send him to sit by us.
Wide Hawk’s secondary mission was complete. Garcia was pushed through a crowd of natives and he sat across the fire from Bobbing Tail and Fawn. Fawn subtly motioned for him to sit right next to them, but Garcia smoothly ignored the request and stayed where he was. He was still in the inner sanctum of grief, but he didn’t want to offend tradition.
Now the mission of making sure the grief would stay away could continue. Now the task of electing a new chief could also begin. That process in itself was a way of ignoring the grief.
Flying Owl: I nominate Big Deer to be chief of the Haudenosaunee League.
The move shocked a few people, who weren’t expecting a nomination so quickly after the last sympathy band was placed on the condolence cane.
Bobbing Tail: I like the nomination.
Big Deer shook with nausea. The last thing he wanted to do was find himself in charge of a group that was splitting itself in two.
Big Deer: The women need to have private meetings to make sure this is the correct decision.
Bobbing Tail: We sure don’t.
Big Deer: Yes you do.
BT: Not if we get a public agreement right now. What do you think women?
There was a general nodding.
Gull Feather: I don’t think the most obvious choice is the best choice this time. The men have already decided to go to war, but we know Big Deer is against it. If you nominate him the split will be wide and deep.
Flying Owl: Who are you to say, you are too young to know the outcome of any vote.
Gull Feather: I know more about how these visitors will effect us than you do. My close friend is Nostradamus, and he proved that he was able to see into the future by showing me his book that he wrote over 200 moons ago.
Flying Owl: Oh? How do you know he didn’t write it in the future and just claim to be from the past?
Gull Feather: He was a religious man. I trust him. These people are here to try to guide us, but they themselves are split. If we elect a leader who just further splits our tribe, we will be lost for sure. The league will die.
Catherine the Great, stepping forward: As a woman I say elect the best man. The majority of your men will be fighting with me to honor Running Bear’s wishes. Elect the best man to make a community of the people you have left behind.
Wide Hawk: I wouldn’t interrupt the council of women, but this woman is a traitor, an interloper, the murderer of Running Bear!
The crowd gets into a pushing frenzy.
Flying Owl: Stop right away. If the men think the best thing to do is go to war with this woman leading them, let the idiots go. It may give us the time to create a strong fort here.
BT: We will never know how my husband felt about this war. Do not go in his name you slut!
Wide Hawk: Please, let there be peace. Do not let the demons of grief overrun an important decision.
BT: Granted. But you will please stay out of the nominating process.
Wide Hawk actually had nothing to gain by Big Deer being nominated. They were from different clans, different tribes, and different philosophies. Yet, he stayed out of the in respect for the traditions.
BT: Again, I nominate Big Deer. Anyone oppose it, other than Gull Feather?
No one spoke up.
Gull Feather: I see I am in the minority, but I still stand opposed.
Flying Owl: Why?
Gull Feather: Because Nostradamus says that wars are inevitable, that we will survive in our own way, that our beliefs will survive for hundreds of moons even if our numbers diminish.
BT: But why should we give up our homes?
Gull Feather: If we don’t go to war, we will lose our chosen place.
BT: THEN WHY DON’T YOU FOLLOW YOUR CHIEF TO WAR, AND LET US ELECT OUR CHIEF FOR HERE!
Gull Feather: Done.
BT: For the last time I nominate Big Deer.
The women all agree to his nomination. He was thereby elected.
The result was an immediate dispersion of the warriors attached to Catherine the Great. Their departure did nothing to excite the crowd, as another noise from a nearby ganohses drew everyone’s attention. It was a screaming woman.
Fawn: Wide Hawk, come quickly, Smoke is having a miscarriage!
Wide Hawk: How badly is she bleeding.
Fawn: I don’t know.
The two ran away from the crowd, as concerned women gathered to talk about the event. A miscarriage, especially in a young woman was seen as an omen among most clans. The talk was to try to figure out what this miscarriage foretold.
Wide Hawk entered the house. He started a chant and a slow movement around the women. He motioned to Fawn that they should move outside. Smoke caught him in the body-language hint.
Smoke: I’m not going outside, you’ll have to embarrass me some other way Wide Hawk!
Wide Hawk: My intention is not to embarrass you. Do you want to feel better or not?
Smoke sat with a small tear in her eye. She didn’t want anyone to know about her failure. She knew she had to be brave, but hated the insistence of Wide Hawk.
Smoke: I have disgraced my husband and my clan.
Stuber 7. 10
Wide Hawk: You have not. Step into the sun, it will warm you. I can dance better outside. We will attract an air goddess and we will make a tea to soothe your soul and warm your belly.
Smoke: OK, but let’s go somewhere away from the crowds. I’m shy.
Wide Hawk grinned. He knew Smoke was about as shy as a charging black bear, but also respected her needs.
Wide Hawk: You will have your first child maybe next summer. Your husband will not be upset. He has worked hard to keep your path a peaceful one. He even took on Charging Buck in a word duel!
Smoke sat up and walked toward the door. She was happy to know that her mate, a man usually of few words, and often resigned to whatever fate came his way, had started to stick up for himself. She pushed back the door bearskin and followed Wide Hawk to a clearing in the woods about two hundred yards up the hill from the group of ganohses.
Smoke: Darting Swallow is the kindest man. I am glad to see he stuck up for himself. But how do you know about this, were you there?
Wide Hawk: No, I heard that the two clashed about whether to go off to war, when confronted by Nostradamus and Corcoran, two of the visitors. Corcoran had been sent off to find Nostradamus, because the other visitors wanted his advice.
Smoke: Hold it, who are these visitors?
Wide Hawk thought this tale was working well to distract Smoke, so he went on: Well, you were busy with your pregnancy, but the last two days have been full of new happenings. I think something like twelve visitors came into the camp. They had not traveled by any of the outposts, so no one knows how they came here. They brought unusual gifts, they wear strange furs, and they believe we are going to be attacked by a huge force of people from across the ganyodeowaneh.
Smoke: Have they been treated fairly?
Wide Hawk: Well, there is a division. Some want to go off to war, others want to stay here and save our land through words. That division among the visitors also split Darting Swallow and Charging Buck.
Smoke: And Darting Swallow took the side of peace I presume.
Wide Hawk: Correct.
Smoke: Well I have someone to be proud of.
Wide Hawk wasn’t so sure how proud she’d be of Darting Swallow’s antics with Corcoran, but he bit his tongue on that issue: Your mate will be supportive,
Stuber 7. 11
now let’s start a fire, so I can get this brewing.
Wide Hawk pulled a satchel off of his thong belt and poured some herbs onto a rock. He excused himself and went to get a boiling pot. Smoke gathered some pine cones, some small twigs and other wood. Wide Hawk was confident that the tasks and her pride in Darting Swallow would keep her mind occupied for the few minutes he was gone looking for a pot.
His mind raced through all the stories he had heard. He realized that Smoke probably didn’t even know that Running Bear was dead. Expecting women got caught up in the events about birthing. A new family member attracted the attention of other women, and the extra attention was much sought-after.
Wide Hawk: Your friend Fawn knows all about what is going on around here. Aren’t you friends with one of the visitors?
Fawn: You know my mother and I finally agreed that Garcia was a complete man. I may have to take grief for my love, but you know how important it is to keep on the track of your dreams. My parents have been very picky about who I can play with. Please don’t get me in trouble with my fiends.
Wide Hawk: That wasn’t my idea. I thought you could tell Smoke more about what has been going on.
Smoke: What are these visitors about?
Fawn: All I know is that I am in love, and I have learned more about love than I knew before.
Smoke: Wide Hawk, why don’t you just mosey along so we can have girl-talk.
Wide Hawk: Your parents have taught you to treat your elders better. You have your fun, but remember, respecting your elders makes life a lot easier.
Fawn: Thank you for helping my mother and I through this hard time Wide Hawk. I’m sure Smoke will be better equipped to properly return your good favors once she is over this.
Wide Hawk shook his head as he left the Ganohses.
Smoke: So what did you learn about love from this neighbor.
Fawn, smiling and beaming in a bright red blush of embarrassment said: Nothing in words.
Smoke: You mean you finally got the nerve to break your parents curse, good for you!
Smoke had turned 15 that winter. Most children had the freedom to explore
their bodies at their own pace.
Fawn: This visitor is named Garcia, he must come from the future. They have all come from the future. They say they are not gods, but they know so much! he did things with me that I have not seen our men doing.
Smoke: Does he take you from behind like a dog?
Fawn: No. We didn’t have time to try different positions because I was interrupted when they told us about my father being killed.
Smoke: your father’s dead?
“The Dinner Party,” a novella in 11 chapters plus endnotes, copyright, Doug Stuber, 1992. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.