THE LAST BEAR ON BRANDYWINE CRICK
Samatha McIntosh Williams © 2013 Coiny Publishing Co., Inc.
 

 

GOLDEN BIRDS OVER AMERICA

 

    It was early on a Hoosier winter morning. A little girl named Sami, four years old, awoke in her log cabin in the woods at the same time beautiful great winged birds rose from their nests in the east and took to flight into the sky in a tight circle of shining gold.  The sun birds were ascending to brighten up the world as they do each day.

     Their leader, Scipio, ordered them to get moving. Daylight must come for the world.     The golden shimmering birds flew up into the sky as an arrow would fly straight and true with necks tucked in and long spindly legs trailing behind. 
     Sundown lay ahead and their thick golden dagger like bills pointed toward it all day. Every now and then one bird would poke another’s tail feathers and a terrible squawk would be heard. Usually, their wings beat ever so deeply and slowly like a melody with a simple yet regular beat. Other times, the golden birds simply soared with their fabulous wings spread, occasionally flapping them easily.  As they glided and mounted the earth’s atmosphere, the shaggy plumes from their broad wings quivered causing their golden light to glitter and gleam while they wheeled ahead to the west down an arc pathway of limitless sky. The earth below was such a fine place.    

      As they flew over America, day broke forth in glorious rays of light. Down below on the earth, the early risers said, “The sun is coming up.” The birds beamed back, “Welcome to a fresh start” as every day is.”

      The year was 1819, a short year after the signing of a treaty with Indians permitting European settlement in the Middle American continent.  This new land was mainly occupied by Miami tribes and called the St. Mary’s Treaty land, or “The New Purchase.”  It was a place where wonderful and magical things happen.

     Below was Sami’s log home. The golden birds looked down to see it. Their eyes sparkled and shined like diamonds in anticipation. Seeing Sami and the children of the earth below made their daily flight happy.

     Sami lived with her parents in a small cleared spot along Brandywine Crick in the Hoosier forest. As the birds continued on, they craned their necks to see if Sami was out playing yet. No, Sami’s mother Sue Ellen was still inside brushing her child’s hair with a silver comb brought over from England. Then Sue Ellen fitted her with her moccasins, sacks of leather tied with drawstrings and set her free to play outside. William, Sami’s father, had been up for some time. There were always so many tasks to do.  

     Around the log cabin was a fresh layer of beautiful white snow as far as the eye could see.  The golden birds flew through a serene sky over forest trees with branches heavy with snow and icicles and snow clinging to the ground.  The rays from the golden birds mesmerized the land and the sun glinted off of the surfaces like twinkle lights.   

       The golden birds flapped their wings when they saw Sami emerging from her log cabin. Seeing Sami was always a high point in their flight. She was such a wonder to look at. Sami was born with the lightest auburn hair and had eyes as blue as cornflowers.

      Outside, a crick was laughing and giggling into cold and icy swirls.  Water dashed against every wave.  In front of the log cabin were shallows with a barrier of large rocks and the crick jumped and danced as it flowed over them in a white cascade and then the waters bubbled away on down the crick working so hard to drain the land so that the settlers nearby wouldn’t get their feet wet.  This crick was recording the stories of the lives of all and taking the accounts down the mighty Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the great library of the sea.

BABY IN THE WOODS

     Sami was waking up for her day in the Hoosier forest.

 

     It was going to be a lovely white day. A great January blizzard was now over. Ice was hanging from the branches of the crick trees and a fresh layer of beautiful white snow had fallen as far as the eye can see under a serene January 1819 sky.       
     Temperatures were now mild after a huge plunge over the weekend. The cold had reached zero Fahrenheit and jumped only to the 20’s when the sun started burning. Today was much warmer and less seasonal. There were huge mounds full of snow still clinging to the ground like play mountains and it seemed the golden birds of the sun were just pretending to warm the land.

     Sami was ready to confront this charmed world.
     Where was her friend? 

     There he was. Ahead of her she saw something.  It was shapeless and simply a glow to most of the world.  But to Sami it was a friend. Somehow she knew his name was Little Squirrel. Sami saw him climbing up out of the waters on the banks of the babbling crick in front of the cabin.

     Only Sami saw him.  He was such fun and he loved to share his wandering existence with her. They smiled at each other and ran together for hugs. The Indian boy was such a restless energy and a blurred mist that only Sami could see clearly.

     He motioned for her to join him on a walk along the crick bank.

    She nodded okay but said she would have to ask her mother first.

    She went back to the log cabin door. “Can I please, please, please go for a walk?” The two looked at each other lovingly for a moment.

    “Don’t get too close to the crick,” Sue Ellen told her. “Don’t stray far.”

     Sami ran to her mother and gave her a big hug and said, “Thank you mommy.”
     “Don’t be gone too long, either?”

    “We won’t”

    “Did you say we?”
     “Yes,”

     “Do you have your friend with you?” her mother asked.

    “Yes,

      Her mother gave her a long look that ended in a smile of adoration and understanding.  Sue Ellen was such a loving mother.  Her eyes were as large and wide as the ocean. Although she was just average height, she was gracefully and delicately slender and glowed with the vigor of a youthful and healthy twenty- two year old motherhood.    

     Then Sami’s mother said, “Say hello to your friend for me.” Sue Ellen loved being a part of every thought of her child, even the imaginary ones about an imaginary friend.             
     Sami left the cabin and blissfully went off skipping through the powdery and fresh driven snow to re-join her imaginary friend.  They were the closest playmates on earth. It did not matter that the little boy was invisible to the world. He didn’t know English and Sami didn’t know Miami Indian.  But that didn’t stop them from communicating with each other in the way children can. Neither let that fact get in the way of having the nicest time playing with each other.

      The little boy waved to come along and pointed back and forth to her and himself. Sami knew this meant “Stay close.”

     Then the two raced down the little snowy crick side path.

     Several minutes later the two were at an opening in a moraine hill along the crick.  There was a slight part of it dug out.

     “Come on in,” the little Indian boy signaled as he himself crawled into the bear cave.

     When Sami crawled into the cave, she was fascinated by a discovery and her eyes were wide open. She pointed to something to her friend. “What is that over there?” She was drawing attention to a little spot in the cave. Her heart was racing inside her chest.  The excitement overwhelmed her.

     The two crept over to the spot.

     There was a tiny cub. Its ear was notched.  The missing part was a very visible chunk of the right ear, about the size of a fingernail and the notch cut into the middle of the cub’s ear leaving it floppy as the cub looked about. He was not in any pain and seemed happy and content to be free and alive.

     Otherwise, the cub was a little fuzzy brown fur ball. Baby bears make happy sounds that are like human sounds. Sami heard him speak to her, “Humma, humma.” The little eyes were not open yet.

     The cave was very quiet and yet here was the life of a tiny bear. Sami and her friend tried to be very careful not to scare the little one. Sami never felt so curious before and she had never seen anything so amazing and wonderful in such a tiny package.

     She wanted to touch it so badly.

     Should she?
     Maybe she should ask her mother first.  There were so many questions in her mind about this little newborn.

     The cub appeared so small.  He must have been born over the weekend during the January blizzard when the air was so cold, bitterly cold and close to freezing.

     What a time for a cub to be born!  A blizzard is like a mini hurricane of snow and ice. Everything is dark and blinding at the same time. Hardly anything can be seen, even things close, because of the blowing wall of white. The snow and wind is deafening too and the snow sticks to everything it touches. It's freezing and dangerous because it is so easy to get lost and buried under the snow.

      This cub was so tiny! He couldn’t have weighed even a pound.

      Suddenly there were more moaning sounds – “humma, humma” - and little cries.
     Sami reached out and slowly touched the baby.
     The Indian boy motioned, “No. No. No.”   His hands were crisscrossing in front of his chest.

     Then he motioned to come out of the cave.
     When they got outside they heard Sami’s mother calling from a distance in the woods.  She was crying out, “Sami???” the voice called.  “Where are you???”

     The sound was faint but carried far in the quiet of the icy cold air.

     Then Sami heard a loud crashing sound as happens when bushes are being tramped down.  There in the woods not far away from her was a huge mother bear.

     Sami’s playumate, her invisible friend, immediately headed straight for it and jumped on its back and pulled furiously at the coat of hair of the beast.  Imaginary playmates can do such things.

     The huge bear was distracted and shook and shook and tried to reach back with its claws to itch this strange rider. In the meantime, Sami had headed home. Being downwind, the bear was unable to smell Sami. Sami came skipping along in the snow and reached the log cabin well ahead of her playmate.

     Then it was noontime and William, Sami’s father, returned to the log cabin from a morning hunting expedition into the big woods.  He put his long rifle on its brackets on a back wall.
     Sami was so happy to see her father and so was Sami’s mother. William, Sami’s father, was the most handsome young Hoosier in the forest, or at least Sue Ellen, his wife, thought so. He was now a very confident twenty two years, tall and slim, with wavy blond hair and a beard that he kept close trimmed framing his friendly young face.

     Sue Ellen had always been in love with William ever since they met in England and before they had rushed off to America together.  Leaving Chester, England was very hard on them both. William’s father was a shipbuilder and he provided well for his son, sending him to the Blue Coat School in Chester as well as providing for the other seven children in William’s family. William was the oldest and he was always industrious and responsible. His younger brother, Carl Poe, was constantly by his side. The other younger children were not so close as these two brothers.

      In his last years at the school, Sue Ellen came visiting a friend and when William met her he knew she was going to be his bride one day even though her family’s station in life was much higher than his.

     The problem was that Sue Ellen was the only daughter of the Earl of Chester.  She was privately tutored at the town cathedral.  Fortunately William’s school was close to the town cathedral. With the two schools so close, there were many opportunities to see each other. After meeting, the two searched for and found many moments to share.

     Both were the same age, being born in 1796. After their eighteenth birthdays, the two wished to make plans to live together.

     One day William told her, “I want to marry you but I know your father will not permit it. I have talked to the captain of one of the ships my father and I have been building and he will take me as a crewman and my brother. I believe he will allow me to take you too for a reduction of wages if you will go with me to America and marry me.  I will make this offer only this one time.  If you do not accept, we will never be able to see each other again.  I cannot stay here in England seeing you if we cannot marry.”

     Sue Ellen immediately agreed and prepared a tiny portion of her belongings. 

    After a treacherous sea voyage and land trip into the beckoning interior of America, the two built a first home in Kentucky and then traveled north into Indiana to take advantage of the government offer of lands in the St. Mary’s Treaty land of what is now Central Indiana.

     William’s brother followed after and he and his brother worked together to construct their homes hewed and stacked from the huge forest trees.

     Sue Ellen never knew regret about her decision to throw her life into the hands of fate with William.

     Sami, their baby girl, was born in Kentucky in 1814 before the move to Indiana and was now being raised in the Hoosier woods.

     Sami entered the log cabin. Sue Ellen had prepared a fine lunch of milk and corn dodgers and milk cheese when Sami turned to see her imaginary playmate open the cabin door and politely take his place on the split log bench beside her.

     “Can my friend have some dodgers too?”  Sami asked.

     “Why of course,” Sue Ellen said, and put on the airs of hospitality she knew so well.

     Then it was time for a nap and Sami’s playmate had to leave.

      As Sami lay in her bed, her mother told her to close her eyes.  Then she told her a little story about her own youth with her beloved father, the Earl of Chester, she had left behind in England.

      Her father was of royal birth and his family had stood bravely for the people of his estates. He had once given a lamb to Sue Ellen to raise. At first she simply fed the lamb but then as time went on the lamb began bleating and bleating whenever she would leave and insisted on following her everywhere she went.

      As she reached teenaged years her father kept adding household responsibilities and one day the lamb disappeared.

      Sue Ellen was frantic and began searching everywhere for the lamb.

      It was nightfall and her father noticed his teen aged daughter had not returned to his house so he went looking for her just as she was searching for the lamb. Then he ordered his entire household to join him in the search.

      It was close to midnight when the Earl himself heard the sounds of a lamb bleating in the night and he followed the sound until he came across a well in the corner of a far field near an abandoned cottage.

     Looking down the well, he could observe nothing but he did hear the sound of the lamb.

     He called down into the well, and an exhausted voice of his daughter said, “Father I am here.”

     “Hang on Sue Ellen,” he called desperately. “We are going to get you out.”

     Other servants were nearby and answered his call to come immediately.

     He commanded them to “Go to that cottage and see if there is a rope or something we can use to lower into this well to get my daughter out.”

     They returned with a ladder that led from the barn floor to a loft and slowly let it down into the well holding on firmly to the upper end.

     Soon the dripping young girl climbed out clutching her lamb close to her heart.  She had held the lamb’s head above water for over six hours since hearing its call and jumping into the well to save it.

     Sue Ellen thanked her father with many hugs and kisses.

     Sue Ellen loved to tell this story to her little girl Sami as she did this night. She told Sami, “I will always love you as desperately as I loved that little lamb.”

      She continued, “Later after I and my lamb were rescued my father entered my bedroom and before tucking me in placed around my neck a necklace displaying a single pearl.”

     “This pearl belonged to your mother,” the Earl told her placing it around her neck.     “I want you to have this to always remember how much your father loves you and admires your courage and bravery. It is said that this pearl has magical powers but your mother never informed me of their nature.”

      With a tender smile of the deepest affection, Sue Ellen took off the necklace and placed it on Sami and told her she could wear it the rest of her life.

 

TWYSTER

 

      Winter passed and April came along. April is a fooler month. It is so close to
winter that many think the icy cold will hang on.  But the golden birds of the sun really
begin to fly closer to the earth and the temperatures are warming up. The trees begin to bud, the grass turns green and the robins start chunning. This April brought beautiful days to the Hoosier forest. The redbuds and the white dogwood trees were already in bloom in their understory places of dappled shade. The season was one for rebirth of all of nature and regrowth.  The days were longer and as long now as the times of darkness.  There was the promise that the days would soon even be longer.

      It was also a time when winds fire up and a gigantic greenish force named Twyster becomes excited up in the sky and sometimes decides to stir up the earth below as a cook mixes ingredients in a mixing bowl.

     There had not always been such a wild energy. Once when the world was young there were no winds. Then when directions began a wind was assigned to each. The north wind blew cold and was most active in the winter.  The south wind was known as a hothead and dominated the summer.  The west wind carried rain in abundance from far Pacific oceans or from the southern gulf and the east wind was a gentle soul whose life brought ease and calmer comfort to the land. 

     All the winds were joined with a direction except one of them, Twyster.  He was given neither direction nor any useful function to perform.  He did not help crops to grow.  He did not cool the land or heat it, nor do anything beneficial. 

     His was a very disturbed youth.  His father, the sky, favored his brothers and sisters and refused to give him any inheritance.  He was so unruly that his own father was fearful of what he might do.

     Twyster began stealing the directions from them in disobedience to his father although whenever his brothers and sisters found him close by they immediately suspected him of malevolence and took their directions from him and forced him to flee.

     However, Twyster could assume power for short periods of time before his brothers and sisters combined their strengths against him and left him powerless.

     High overhead, not far from the home of Sami, lived this angry and alienated wind.

     It was on an April noontime that Twyster looked down at Sami’s log cabin and grinned his terrible, toothless, gappy, invisible smirk.

     Soon there appeared an area between the ground and the dark ceiling of the blue sky. Twyster began to move in one confused and then swirling motion filling that blue sky and eventually covered it.

     Down below a tornado's leading edge began moving toward Sami’s log cabin but there was more. Debris began to fill the air and there were scary sounds of wind and cracks and exploding trees crashing against each other. 

     Where the winds had blown, the earth flattened and everything was left smothered and ripped up.  Little things that were once big things begin falling like rain and landing as the winds retreated. Twyster sucked up the earth beneath him and blew the objects on the ground around before dropping them back down. The noontime sky grew dark and a rush of warm air gushed through the woods. You could feel the cold air trying to escape from the heat like a frog leaping off a lily pad.

     As Twyster was driving toward Sami’s home, her mother, Sue Ellen, was outside hanging clothes with Sami under a tree nearby. Then the sky began to look ominous. Sue Ellen took her laundry inside and began to put it away.

     When she went inside the log cabin William was kindling the hearth.

     Suddenly there was kind of a whistling sound. Sue Ellen looked at the door of the log cabin and noticed it was actually bulging in.  She went to look outside through its now widening crack and froze with fear. A boiling black mass had hit the barn outside and it disappeared. The black mass was roaring toward her and her log cabin

     Sue Ellen tugged hard to try to open the door but couldn’t open it fully.  She called for Sami but couldn’t see her. Nothing outside was intact.

     Then came the whooooooooooosh of winds in excess of 325 mph that seemed like

 

they were right on top of her.

 

     Sami was beneath a huge crick sycamore.  The tree began to be pulled up by its roots

 

but the tornado did not succeed in pulling it up entirely.  Instead the tree bent over at an

 

angle sheltering Sami from the blowing.

 

     The log cabin was hit with a wind that blew down the chimney. 

 

     William saw Sue Ellen at the door and got to her just in time to grab her and dive with

 

her beneath their bed.  Then the loft floor of half of the log cabin fell on them when the

 

joists supporting it were torn out by the winds.

 

     The bodies of Sue Ellen and William were smashed and left interposed within wooden

 

logs. They were lifeless in the debris.

 

     The log cabin was in ruins with the roof sheathing stripped off its rafters, and many


rafters were stripped from the purlins.

    

     The fireplace was steaming from its coals now exposed to scattered logs. The clay

 

lining the fireplace walls was shaken onto the stones of the fireplace and the wood and

fire met.

 

     Soon the only parts of the log cabin still in place and left standing were afire.

 

     Sami had been sheltered in a ravine near the cabin.

 

     Sami yelled for her mother and father but they did not emerge from the torn apart and now burning cabin.

     It was then that Sami’s invisible friend came out of the crick and led her away into the woods as cougars screamed out and wolves howled.

      Children, love and obey your parents because you never know how long you will
have them.

UNCLE CARL POE

 

    On this same April day, Uncle Carl Poe was casting a line time after time into the Brandywine Crick and having a wonderful time. He had been fishing since sunup. Life was so good here in the New Purchase with his brother’s family nearby down the crick. There was such pleasure in seeing the tendrils of the mist rise from the little crick and the excitement from the little tentative rises of the fish to catch his bait. The tranquility was relaxing and stress flew. Before long, he had a stringer full of black suckers, sunfish and big-mouths. They would make a mouth-watering mess for dinner.
     Uncle Carl Poe hailed from Kentucky along with his brother William. He was 21 years of age and had come to America when his brother did. The two always lived close to each other. Uncle Carl Poe however just didn’t seem to have the industry of his brother. He had never put a log rail fence up – or wanted to - and when he came from Kentucky, he had only his horse and Longun, his trusty musket for company. His really valuable possession was a fine half barrel of corn whiskey. This was his wages from helping his brother raise corn in Kentucky. Shortly after arrival in the New Purchase, and right after he and his brother had put up his log cabin along came some Miami Indians looking around at his small clearing.  One of them with a terrible glare of his eyes stared down Uncle Carl Poe and scared him most out of his leatherwork. Then others began SHOUTING “Whiskey. Whiskey.” Fearful of what they might have had in mind, Uncle Carl Poe offered them some of his corn whiskey and the Indians accepted until the barrel was almost dry and then the humbled Indians left in a terrible state.
     Fortunately, the Indians seemed satisfied that Uncle Carl Poe had no more liquor.

     “That’s not going to happen again,” Uncle Carl Poe said to himself and he kept the corn jug of whiskey he had hidden into the bottom of the barrel and put a false bottom in it. There he said to himself proudly, no one would dream my whiskey barrel would have a fake bottom that I can lift up as high as I want.

     Furthermore, he devised his own second remedy for pesky whiskey hunting Indians.  He built a cavity unique in the whole woods.  It was his “Indian Hiding Hole.”  Not far from the log cabin, he dug out a deep pit large enough for him to jump into and quickly pull over a shelf of woods plants so that no one could find him. He thought to himself: “My, oh my! If you aren’t the smartest feller ever!” If worse came to worse, he would disappear off the face of the earth.

      Uncle Carl Poe was short at just a little over five foot and heavy looking like a barrel and he never shaved.  His beard drooped down to his shoulders. His eyes twinkled.  He loaded himself up around his neck.  Lately he had started wearing a turtle shell with a hole poked in it and strung on a string of dried muscle as a necklace and when he went scrounging for a fat turkey or a good tasty looking deer he carried a buckskin pouch with “emergency” snacks of seeds, or dried fruit or venison and “purties.” His “purties” were the prettiest rocks that he found in the crick.  They were hoarded for his niece, Brother William’s little girl Sami and when he was allowed to go in his Brother William’s house, the little girl would rush over to him to see what new “purties” he had for her.
      He could survive just fine out in the wild forest living all by himself.
     The fact is that Uncle Carl Poe’s best friend was his musket. Nothing made Uncle Carl Poe feel so secure as when Longun was at steady rest.
     After fishing all morning, Uncle Carl Poe went to see his friend Longun. He would do a little hunting and then return to the crick later in the day.

     “How we doing today?” Uncle Carl Poe asked his buddy Longun. “Time for us to go huntin’.” Longun was born from the famous Hawkins manufacturing family line.  Longun was the dull metal barreled musket that was Uncle Carl Poe’s best friend.

     “Just fine,” his bud would tell him, “but we got some hunting to do today.”  Longun’s voice was much more metallic than Uncle Carl Poe’s whose voice was sweet and deep. When talking, Longun’s speech sounded like two pieces of lead , 68 caliber or so, scraping together.

      Longun was not nearly so fancy as Brother William’s Kentucky long rifle but they both looked about the same.  Both had wooden stocks to hold them steady and steel gun barrels.  They both had flint locks and pans for gunpowder.  When the trigger was pulled on either weapon, the flint struck against the steel cock and sparks flew everywhere.  Some entered the gun barrel through a small hole and ignited gunpowder poured into the end of the barrel with a lead ball crammed down by a barrel rod. That is when the deadly little ball would fly out the gun barrel and if anything was in the way watch out!

      But when the bullet went shooting out the barrel, there was a big difference between Longun and a Kentucky long rifle. Brother William’s gun was riffled in a concentric spiral and much more accurate.  Longun could only hit his target about 50 feet away while the Kentucky long rifle barrel was good for 200 feet. Nothing about Uncle Carl Poe or anything he owned seemed to be up to his brother’s standards.  Nevertheless, Longun was good to Uncle Carl Poe and he liked his friend enough to keep him company over the years.

     They would go hunting up in the “Big Woods” as they called the forest land to the north.

     “You sure you don’t want to tramp over to William’s?” Longun asked Uncle Carl Poe. “How about over by your brother’s place?”

     This was an inside joke of course.  Both knew they weren’t allowed over at Brother William’s home too much.  Once a week was about all Uncle Carl Poe and Longun were permitted to visit there and that is when he got his weekly cornbread from Brother William’s wife. If it got burned from overcooking in her big iron skillet over the hearth, Uncle Carl Poe got it anyway.

     Nevertheless, Uncle Carl Poe often went around his brother’s homestead from a little more distance.  It was his way of staying in touch with kinfolk.

     Otherwise he usually stuck at home with his buddy Longun. He didn’t usually get so close to his brother’s house to be a nuisance or even close enough to talk about the weather.  That would have made his brother’s wife Sue Ellen unhappy with him.

    Sue Ellen had lots more to do that sit down and jaw with Uncle Carl Poe.  She had a baby girl to raise named Sami and maybe another on the way. She always claimed she spent half her time shooing Uncle Carl Poe away.  When she got mad at him she swept her hair back from her head so she could let people see her fiery eyes. Then she would say what she had to. Sometimes, she would have liked to sweep Uncle Carl Poe away with her broom.
      Then, on this fateful day, as the afternoon got later, it began to get dark out. Uncle Carl Poe returned to his log cabin with some game and thought to himself, “Great. I love storms.”
     But little did he know that he was not going to love this one. This was one where trees would be blown completely on their side.         

     It was starting to get more and more violent out there.  Finally as Uncle Carl Poe began to feel he was being vacuumed up into the sky, he hurried into his log cabin. It was only by the grace of God that he was able to get back into the house.  Twyster was reaching out to grab him.  Then he heard mooing from up in the sky! Were things so crazy that a cow was jumping over the moon?

POKING AROUND FOR A SURVIVOR


      After the storm, Uncle Carl Poe went outside again to see the worst. Upon opening his front door, his eyes googled. There was his brother’s cow outside wallowing in the soaking mucky ground. Her front legs were a foot in the earth.  Twyster had lifted that cow up and set her down in the mud at Uncle Carl Poe’s front yard.

      Uncle Carl Poe helped the old cow pull herself up and out of the mire.

      High up from the sky he could almost hear the voice of the receding tornado yelling out “Gotcha!”

     A little time passed and the daylight was fleeing.

     This was no time to return to fishing as he had planned.

     He began wondering how his brother and family were. Should he return the old cow to his brother?

     When he looked over in the direction of his brother’s house, Uncle Carl Poe saw angry redness lighting up the sky.

     Uncle Carl Poe decided to go investigate and picked up his gun again.

     “You stupid old bird,” his gun told him.  “Don’t you recognize that orange-red over there in the direction of your brother’s house? Any fool could tell what that is!”

     “Sure I see it,” Uncle Carl Poe said trying to shake off his gun talking to him like he was stupid.  “I ain’t as blind as you are.”

     “Well then, don’t you wonder what it is?”

     “I don’t suspicion it has got anything to do with me,” Uncle Carl Poe told his partner.

     “How do you know?”  the old gun nagged. “Not one thing happens in this world that doesn’t affect everything!”

      Of course Longun was right.  This triggered Uncle Carl Poe to action. The only thing to do was truly eyeball it from up close which Uncle Carl Poe would have to do.  The more he took in the orange and red glow, the more roused he got.  He would have to go see the cause. Those angry colors were bound to be flames.

     “Git on your horse and go over there and see what is going on,” the old gun demanded.

     “Oh, all right,” Uncle Carl Poe agreed.

     Uncle Carl Poe’s horse Mindy was always close beside his home. She really wasn’t intended to be a “rider” horse.  Her job was to be a packer.  Usually, she carried cargo on her sides either skins down to the trader’s or loads from a forest hunting session.  But she did know how to bear Uncle Carl Poe when he had to go horseback riding someplace.

     Mindy was always there when he needed her. He never tied her to anything and she always came to his whistle. Pretty soon he was heading down a familiar path on the way to Brother William’s house.

     Uncle Carl Poe’s two dogs also came along. They loved adventure. The dogs barked and barked on the way. 

     The little slash, or road, over to his brother’s house was like it had always been until Uncle Carl Poe started getting closer to William’s home.  There it was torn apart with limbs thrown here and there by the tornado winds.   The scene changed into a nightmare place with sights more and more unbelievable. The forest had been turned upside down and inside out

     As Uncle Carl Poe got closer and closer to his brother’s home, the orange and red blaze had died down.  Fire had done its dirty work of consuming the wood of a wind blown up log cabin.

     Twyster had gotten his brat way again.  It is like he had said to himself that Brother William’s cabin was in the way and had to come down.  The little log home just had to be blown apart. Twyster must have pulled up a few young trees by their roots and when this didn’t do the job he tore out a giant poplar and threw it at the little cabin. The huge trunk bowled over the cabin’s chimney flue.  After Twyster opened up Brother William’s cabin to see what was inside he got even more tormented and angry.  Inside was a family and he couldn’t have any.  The sight of the little man and his wife hugging each other in terror got him going all over again. He blew harder and circled around picking up some of the cabin and piled up logs over Brother William and Sue Ellen before he blew some of the hearth fire from the ruined flue around and burned the place down.

     At the homestead now all you could see were black coals in a close cloud. It was mostly after smoke pouring from what was once his brother’s cabin.  The house gave off a glow from its flamy conqueror.  All that was left was just a pile of hot cinders.

     Now Longun was wanting to know what had happened to Brother William and his wife and little girl. 

     Where were they?

     Uncle Carl Poe got off his horse and crept over to the remains of the leveled and torn apart home.  All the while he called out over and over again for his brother and his wife and for their baby girl.  There was no response.  It had really been kind of a useless thing to do in the first place. There was no sign of his brother’s hogs that usually rooted around the home or the corral where the sweet little baby calf used to be.      
     Everything looked chewed up and spat out.

     At the burned out front door, Uncle Carl Poe looked in to see cinders and char where there used to be a puncheon floor and walls.  He poked inside as far as he could reach with his gun. Wherever he stirred, new flames and sparks spit out.  Everything inside the cabin was a goner.

     He did find Sue Ellen’s silver comb and put it in his pocket to take home. How often he had seen her comb her daughter’s hair with this comb.

     Uncle Carl Poe needed some better tools to fool around inside that cabin. Brother William had built a little rough barn and Uncle Carl Poe went over to where it had been.  Under some boards were his brother’s rake and shovel.  Then he went back to work trying to sort through the remains in the cabin.

     In the cruel light of wood coals, over by where the bed used to lay, Uncle Carl Poe found his brother and wife, burned and blackened.  Fire had taken them. Their bed was in a corner away from the exit and no where near escape.

     Uncle Carl Poe was able to reach in and shovel out what was left of his brother and his wife and collect them close by outside for burial.  It was all he could do at the time.  He dug down in the wet earth for a final resting place. The spot he chose was one where William had just dug a bed for flax and potatoes.  The ground was worked and slurpy from the rain.  He dug the ground as deep as could. No animal would want to dig around in it.

     But there was still this problem.  Where was the little girl? 

     Try as hard as he could, he could not find hide nor hair of his niece Sami. He combed through every pile of burned out cut down trees. She was such a little tyke that what was left of her after the fire might not have been much to see or overlook.  Finally he gave up for then.

     The next day in the daylight he could make a more thorough inspection.       

      Now amidst great anguish, Uncle Carl Poe called his dogs and he and Longun got back on their horse to ride the lonely way back home.  There was still the smell of smoke everywhere.  The puddles and dampness didn’t seem fresh and spring like.

 

A NEW DAY’S SEARCH

 

     Once he got home and was settled in, Uncle Carl Poe couldn’t stop thinking about William. Brother William had always aimed high and followed his heart. Love for his brother and sister in law and their little girl caught his heart.

     Uncle Carl Poe wondered if he had done right in leaving the burned out home of his brother without looking harder for the little girl?  What had happened to Brother William’s child, Sami?

     If she were out there in the woods somewhere, all kinds of God’s creatures would be wanting to make a meal out of her.  On the other hand, who would be out there to keep her safely?  Uncle Carl Poe was restless as a cat thinking about the situation.  But what could he do?  Searching in the cabin had not turned up anything.

     Complicating things was the bigger question.  Why had death come to his brother and not him?  Uncle Carl Poe knew himself pretty well.  All he did was poke around all day.

He was not a family man by any stretch of the imagination. Sometimes he did not even get up in the morning.  There was absolutely nothing about him that should have allowed him to survive the tornado rather than his brother. The Lord of the Living God kept him alive and not his brother. Why? His brother was a better man and their mom had entrusted the family bible to him. It was burned up now and it was just as well.  He didn’t

like to read it anyway. If it had easy answers then he wouldn’t be able to find them. He was simply not the man his brother was!

     Finally, morning broke to signal a new day and Uncle Carl Poe got prepared to go back to the site of the fire. The clouds of the storm were all cleared away. He sacked up corn bread and some venison and called his dogs.

      After he got started, the dogs took to the run and soon they rushed away on ahead down the crick. The woods was a place for many adventures for the dogs.  

     The wet warmness of Spring – together with cups of sassafras tea – would almost always make a Hoosier feel good about life.  But today that wasn’t happening. The temperature never got higher 50 degrees this week and thaws brought flooding.  The low places along Brandywine Crick were full of water and the crick overflowed everywhere.

     There was too much on Uncle Carl Poe’s mind to feel very happy. Longun couldn’t even cheer him up like he usually could with thoughts about blasting away.

     Thinking of where his niece could be and what could have happened to her drained his mind.

     He even rode his horse way too sloppily and dumped himself off not far from his home. Now he was wet as well as anguished.  If only the sun would beam down into the woods a little! The golden birds never shone enough through the huge trees to get the land dried out. 

      Everything was making everything else worse!

      Soon he arrived back at his brother’s home. He jumped off his horse by the burned out cabin. Uncle Carl Poe poked through the cabin ashes again until he was double sure the little thing’s body was not inside.  Maybe she got out and took to the woods? Now was the time to begin the search in those parts.
     Longun and he took to the walk to try to find the little girl into the deep woods.

     Longun told him, “You are not leaving here til you turn up Sami or maybe answer the question of what became of her!”

     Why had he not found a trace of the little girl?  It was so wet that he couldn’t see any footprints, animal or little girl. All traces disappeared in mire.  Uncle Carl Poe walked further and further out into the forest.

     The woods really would have been beautiful under other circumstances. The wild cherry trees were blooming. Out where the shadows of the huge poplars permitted, there were gorgeous beds of spring wildflowers. Patches of May apples were everywhere and scattered among the dried brown tree leaves were the trilliums with their bright reddish purple heads in the center. 

     Uncle Carl Poe called over and over, “Sami! Sami?”

     Where were the dogs when you needed them?  They might have helped with the search if they hadn’t run off.  They had gone down a different path and you could barely hear their deep bays. They must have found some game. 

 

DEADLY ENEMIES

 

     It was now at least an hour later and Uncle Carl Poe had walked in concentric circles many yards from his brother’s cabin. It was ground work.  His company were senseless singing birds. Uncle Carl Poe searched and searched in every tangle of briers and in every undergrowth of thicket.  Since there were no answers to his calls, he feared the worst.  His brother’s little girl might just be a heap of bones by now. Still, he had to know.

     After a couple of more hours of discouragement, Uncle Carl Poe was half a mile from the cabin.  As he got further away, the trees were thicker. The thick growths were beyond the grazing ranges of Brother William’s farm animals that had kept much of the undergrowth down.

     So were two bears.  Up ahead were two of the furry creatures.

     Yes, they were close enough for positive identification.

     There up ahead were two black bears.

     No doubt the two bears were more aware of Uncle Carl Poe approach than was Uncle Carl Poe aware of what he was closing in on.

     Bears can smell people from a great distance.  Their noses are super.  Their sense of smell enables them to catch the scents of animals with only faint aromas.  They can locate other food supplies from their sweet smells and identify them that way as various natural wild fruits, larvae and other snacks.

     When Uncle Carl Poe first came across these bears he didn’t know what to do and neither did the bears.

     The biggest of the bears lifted his head up and licked his choppers, then rose up on his haunches to get an even better smell of this intruder.

     Uncle Carl Poe was the object of the smell.

     Uncle Carl Poe found himself suddenly within ten feet of two huge bears. They were evidently male and female and they were half again as big as he was.  This sow - as a female bear is sometimes called - was just a little more brownish than the boar.  Both had been foraging.

     But when Uncle Carl Poe was getting closer, the boar – the male bear - knew it.  The big guy was nodding his head yes to that question.

     What were bears doing out in the woods during daylight? It wasn’t unusual in pioneer Hoosier days for a bear to be roaming around during the day. In those days, bears didn’t get their days and nights mixed up. Bears out of winter hibernation eat up and they don’t lay low during the days as they do living around where people do.  As Spring deepens wilderness bears are busy both night and day.

     No one had designed this moment.  Uncle Carl Poe would just as soon not have seen these big gangly black-haired creatures.  Unless a bear comes up in front of you like these two did, they are so hard to see that they disappear into the forest shadows.  You can’t hear them to avoid them either.  They walk about on soft broad footpads that hide the noise of their footsteps in the brush.  They don’t need to tippy toe.

     Now what would the bears do after they were so close to Uncle Carl Poe? 

     The he-bear took special notice. It is a known fact that wild he-bears don’t like people. It is kind of a macho thing. When this one saw Uncle Carl Poe the great he-bear gave a woof and growl that frightened Uncle Carl Poe down to the depth of his soul. 

    If he could have, he would like to get out of there.

    How could Uncle Carl Poe escape?  Should he fire his gun at the bear?  If he did and missed it would be all over since there was only one bullet in its chamber.

     Who would make the first move?  It looked like it had better be Uncle Carl Poe. The bears were pesky, stubborn and not about to leave.  The he-bear was rolling its head and its eyes were checking for forms and movements.

     For what seemed the longest time, neither man nor bear made a move.  It was like all of them were trying to size up the situation.

     On his part, Uncle Carl Poe decided to turn around quietly and back away. 

     Maybe the bear would lose interest in him.

     But, no, the bear had dropped what he was doing to figure out what to do about Uncle Carl Poe.  The bear forgot about its forbs and the nice new luscious grass clumps   A new game was on.  The name of the game was Uncle Carl Poe. Who would win the new game?

 

TWO BEARS VERSUS UNCLE CARL POE AND LONGUN

 

     A bear can start up quickly when it wants to.  This huge boar bear lunged towards Uncle Carl Poe and began its two paw lope towards the pioneer only a few yards away. 

     The boar had made up his mind.  Here was Uncle Poe as a short plump juicy looking meal.  The bear didn’t want to pass up taking a short romp to get ahold of this tasty morsel looking slow moving animal fellow.

     On his part, Uncle Carl Poe then turned around to make a mad dash for safety. Figuring into his decision was the unfortunate fact that if the bear were to run after him the bear would win the chase.  Even on level ground, bears are faster runners. Looks are deceiving in a bear. The bear looks very awkward.  An adult has a big bulky body. But a bear is capable of great speed that can reach twenty or thirty miles per hour when it comes to a foot race.  

     Longun was also trying to give his partner some advice. “Run faster, you numbskull!!!”

     If there was to be a getaway, then running beat walking.  The only problem was that running through brush and spring marshy ground didn’t make for a very fast exit. Every thicket would give the bear an advantage.  This bear could bowl through them using its 600 plus pounds of bulk but Uncle Carl Poe could not.
     When Longun saw that Uncle Carl Poe was making no progress, he urged a second course of action. “Lift me up and let me shoot it!!!” 

     But Uncle Carl Poe didn’t have the resolve to stop running long enough to do that. His mind was jelly. He was trembling in every limb.  He was so shaken he could not even lift his gun.
     The bear was very close now.  He raised himself on his huge back haunches and with a deep woof woof began a final deadly leap toward Uncle Carl Poe.

     The she-bear had waddled away somewhere.
     But before the he-bear could leap, Uncle Carl Poe saw he had run into a small open space of ground where the undergrowth was not so thick and where the sun shown brightly.  The light raised Uncle Carl Poe’s confidence level and the sight of the bear ready to jump on him sealed his decision. In the last few seconds of retreat he had caught his breath and had time to figure out a last desperate plan. 

     A bear crashing through a nearby thicket gets you to thinking. Turning quickly, Uncle Carl Poe pulled himself together, lifted Longun to his shoulder and quickly began the complicated process of pouring gunpowder into the barrel of gun with a ball tamped down. The bear was too close for Uncle Carl Poe to complete the process and fire a shot.
     It was inevitable. The bear would soon be on top of him. A quick roll took him away from being under a thud.
     The gun was useless and Uncle Carl Poe threw it away and again took to the run.

     Longun wasn’t very happy at being thrown aside but what could he do?

     A desperate question was going through Uncle Carl Poe’s mind. Where were his dogs? 

     He whistled out as loudly as he could.  They were supposed to come to him when he whistled three times. Uncle Carl Poe began calling for them, hoping they could hear, because he did not know anything else to do.  He was whistling and whistling and whistling. He ran as fast as he could but the bear was still at his heels. Uncle Carl Poe could feel his breath.
     Every moment he expected to feel a stroke come from the bear’s huge rough paw. What Uncle Carl Poe was up against were giant claws on paws so powerful they could kill a full-grown deer with one blow. Those paws could rip a deer apart and tear flesh from bone in an instant. One blow per victim was all the doctor ordered.
     Then came with a stunning force that threw Uncle Carl Poe to the ground upon his back.  A paw got him. “My goodness!” he yelled as he found himself down on the ground on his chest with his nose in a clump of wildflowers.   He didn’t have the inclination to notice how pretty they were.
     Then the bear was on top of him in an instant. 

     Some people think bears look cuddly and nice.  They do have lots of huggable fat on them as a general rule in the summer when they are eating up for the winter.  Much of it is on their thighs.  When a bear takes off sometimes you can see a big fold of fat ripple with the start. That little ripple isn’t so pleasant if it is going to be heavy load waiting to land on you.

     You think getting jumped on by a bear might be like having a pillow thrown at you.  But it is really not so much that way.  A big, fat bear landing on top of you is like being thrown under a waterfall - lots of weight coming down way too quickly.

     This bear didn’t waste any time once it took Uncle Carl Poe down.

     Very quickly the bear bit at his left arm between its mighty frothy jaws. The light of the world seemed to go out for a second as great pain took over Uncle Carl Poe’s body and reality was simply a matter of a huge bloody mouth of a bear filled with Uncle Carl Poe’s blood. 

     Then more facts hit home. Uncle Carl Poe could feel the bear’s hot breath almost burning his cheeks getting ready for more bites and his deep terrible growls nearly deafened his ears. It seemed like time was stopping for Uncle Carl Poe lying there with the huge body of the bear over him like a death blanket.

 

HERO DOGS


     But suddenly there came the yelp of his dogs who had heard Uncle Carl Poe’s desperate calls.  Chloe and Maya had heard him.

     They had been on their own adventure chasing a fox on a “fooler” run through the woods with the fox keeping them from her nursery tree containing a bed of warm dry leaves and moss and five little kits.

     Now the dogs were close by Uncle Carl Poe’s side. If there is any creature on earth that a bear hates it is a dog.  Uncle Carl Poe’s dogs did not waste a moment, but soon began biting and pulling the bear’s hind legs out from under him.  The bear immediately turned upon one of the dogs and Uncle Carl Poe had the opportunity to rise from what might have been his last resting place.
     When he felt the weight of the world come off of him, Uncle Carl Poe was up on a wink of the eye. 

     First one of Uncle Carl Poe’s dogs lunged at the bear and then the other. These two strong dogs were worthy foes for the beast.
     Uncle Carl Poe’s great danger and narrow escape had quickened his senses.  He remembered where he had thrown his gun not far away and ran to it.  He found Longun and Longun was glad to see him and urged him to let him help. “Shoot me! Shoot me!” Longun demanded.  “Let me at that big lug.”  Uncle Carl Poe completed the work necessary to get a shot off.  He loaded the pan with a little gunpowder.

     A short scurry back to the scene of the bear and dogs and Uncle Carl Poe was ready to raise his long rifle even though his left arm was terribly bitten. Painfully, he was able to sight his target. A couple of times he had to re-aim to avoid striking the dogs who still held the bear at bay. The problem was that the dogs were on either side of the bear.  Both were strong and savage attackers and each was as quick and nimble as a cat.  The bear had all he could do to defend himself and continually turned first one way and then another to keep their fangs from his legs or throat.  This made Uncle Carl Poe’s aim even harder.
     The best thing for Uncle Carl Poe to do was to get as close as he could to the bear and he did so cautiously. For all the world, he didn’t want to wound either of his faithful friends.
    Then Uncle Carl Poe finally got his shot away. A loud bang gave the bear a deadly wound as close to the bear’s heart as Uncle Carl Poe could plant the bullet.
     The wounded animal made a hasty retreat back into the thicket followed closely by the dogs. The huge bear knew its end had come.
     At first Uncle Carl Poe did not follow.  He had seen more than enough of that bear.  He took a couple of deep breaths and loaded his gun again. 

     Then Longun said to him, “You don’t need to do any checking on that bear.  He is as dead as a doornail!”

     “But I might have to give that bear another dose to put him out of his misery!” Uncle Carl Poe said.

     “No, he ain’t in any misery,” Longun insisted. “He is in a better place.”

     After a head scratch or two, Uncle Carl Poe gave up the idea of chasing down the dying bear.  He saw a dead tree down nearby and was going to rest on it. A jaybird was pecking for beetles and then flew up into the top of a tree and shut his bright blue wings and swelled and sang out his “jay, jay, jay.” The bird was scolding Uncle Carl Poe to go on and get his work done.

     Uncle Carl Poe decided he needed to move on. Then he headed off through the thicket to where the dogs were howling at a new place.
     The dogs were farther in, nearer Brandywine Crick toward a rocky moraine where the vines, trees and brush grew so thick that it was almost dark.
     Uncle Carl Poe hurried on to see about his dogs. 

 

THE END OF THE SOW

 

     Soon through the shadows around some rocks, he saw the she-bear, a huge sow, and around her were the dogs, prancing, barking, circling and snapping furiously.

     The dogs really didn’t have nearly as big a bear to tackle this time.  The she-bear rarely weighs but half the boar.  This littler bear was rearing on its hind legs in front of the dogs.  She refused to run from her spot.  It was like she was guarding something. The bites of the dogs were deep and vicious and the bear’s blood flowed where she was rooted.  But she did not run.  She stood her ground and growled and refused to yield her earth. She uselessly poked the air with her claws.  The dogs never got close enough to be in any danger.
    Uncle Carl Poe took a position within a few yards of the she-bear and this time he was able to think to call off his dogs so that a shot might be made without danger of killing them. Longun released a deadly round. The gun blasted and the smaller she-bear fell over on her side, quivered for a moment and died.   

      This last scene was close by a stony pile, a moraine left by the receding Ice Ages.  The Hoosier land was full of such deposits where melting ice had left behind heaps of the rocks pushed forward in the front of the great masses of ice forging south from Canada  The smooth rocks of this moraine formed an arch close to the bottomland of the Brandywine Crick to the height of about ten feet.          

     Uncle Carl Poe worked his way through the underbrush to see this formation more closely after checking once again to make sure the she-bear lay dead. 
     Close by, his attention was attracted to a small opening in the moraine.  It looked like the mouth of a cave where smaller stones had been dug out from beneath huge ones. It had the potential of being the home of the bear family. 
     The she-bear had taken her last stand at the door of her home and in defending it had lost her life.

     Then Uncle Carl Poe heard some scurrying around inside. He got closer to the mouth of what appeared a cave opening.  Then, he heard the noises again.

      The mouth of the cave was truly big enough for him to enter if he got down on his hands and knees.  Should he do that?  Should he go into the cave and see what was so noisy inside?

A SURPRISE CAVE

 

     Longun gave him some advice.  “Don’t go trying to git yourself killed again!  Some other wild beast might be in there, a cougar or something.”
     Uncle Carl Poe took the warning to heart.  He had been through so much this day – with the bears and such – that he couldn’t find much courage left in his store. Here he was in front of a murky cavern whose air seemed so heavy with danger that it flowed out to him and grabbed him with two breezy hands around the throat. “Yikes!” he shouted to his left brain from the right.

     Maybe he should just walk away.

     But something wouldn’t let him.

     He figured he would use his flint to make a fire so he gathered together some dry wood and made a fire in front of the cave hoping to drive out anything that might be inside.  He fanned and blew the smoke from the fire inside. Suddenly a quick light rain came down and the shower made everything too soggy. Still, he fanned and fanned.

     Nothing came out of the cave.

     Something inside did start coughing.

     Uncle Carl Poe bravely called out, “Who might that be in there?”

     But there was no answer which led Uncle Carl Poe to believe the occupants inside didn’t speak English.

     When the smoke brought nothing out, Uncle Carl Poe decided to bravely reach his hand in to try to grope around.  Nothing but space.
     Dropping on his knees, Uncle Carl Poe began to crawl in at the narrow opening.  A short distance inside the cave was larger and he began to hear the crying of a little girl as well as the whimpering of a bear cub. In a remote corner of the cave, he saw a pair of children of the two kinds, one of humanity and another of bear embracing each other upon a soft bed of leaves and grass which had been placed there by the bear father and mother for safety.
     Uncle Carl Poe’s delight knew no bounds. 

     He had found his niece Sami. In front of him was the little smiler, the little girl who always called for her uncle the minute she saw him.  She was still wearing her necklace with the single pearl given to her by her mother. There in perfect health was a little toddler with no fear at all next to her own personal teddy bear.

     How could this miracle be?

     The little toddler must have been taken into the cave.  Since bears generally have two cubs, the addition must have been permitted. Quickly Uncle Carl Poe went over and gathered up the child in his arms.  The baby was as hale and hearty appearing as if she had been nestled in her own bed. 

     Then Uncle Carl Poe looked over at the bear cub.  It was hardly a few pounds, about four pounds now, a gray-black frowsy little cub as fat and round as a roll of butter.  The little bear cub looked over at Uncle Carl Poe and waddled over to where Uncle Carl Poe was nestling Sami. The little cub had opened his eyes about two weeks before and now he could see the strange man that had come close to him and entered his life. The cub nestled up close to its new sister.
     Uncle Carl Poe hustled up his gun next to his shoulder and picked up the girl with one hand. He got ready to take the little girl out of the smoky enclosure.

     But something stopped him from brushing the cub away.

     It would have been so easy to crawl back out of the cave.

     Something wouldn’t let him.

    A look over at the parentless cub and Uncle Carl Poe knew what must come next.

    There was nothing to do but pick up the cub with his other hand and make his way out of the cave. All the way out the two never cried a bit so long as they were within eyeshot of each other. They both were so happy with each other!
     The two seemed destined to be raised together.
     Leaving the scene of the bear battles, Uncle Carl Poe carried his two wards away homeward.  It was only a short time past noon, but the day had been hard and he now had a new task.
     “As I am kin to this baby, I shall raise her as my own,” Uncle Carl Poe said.
     Then he looked at the cub.

     “As I have killed your mother,” said Uncle Carl Poe, talking to the cub, “I must take care of you and give you plenty of milk and raise you up to be a good, respectable bear.” 

 

HOPPER GETS HIS NAME

 

      Back at William’s burned down cabin, Uncle Carl Poe returned to his horse. It was a bumpy ride back to his cabin with two passengers on his lap.  Both the baby toddlers were heavy lumps.

     It was April weather and much warmer than the winter time. Spring had arrived.

     When the trip was over, Uncle Carl Poe took his two new guests inside.

     Little did he know how much life would change for him. The word survival took on a new meaning. Uncle Carl Poe must not only fend for himself but he must help raise Brother William’s child. Also he must keep this bear cub out of trouble. It did not take long for the little girl to learn to live with a new caregiver and the little bear was always hopping around the cabin. The cub also came to love to romp about outside among the grass and clover. Sometimes he would shimmy up a tree and hop about in its branches. He always came back to the cabin door and waited politely to re-enter his new cave. Sami didn’t like her new friend to be too far away from her.

      Sometimes, if Sami didn’t watch him, the little bear would hop away from the home and out into the nearby woods. The weather didn’t stop him from hopping about no matter whether the sun was shining or rain was falling.  The little bear hopped from morning to night but always hopped back to Sami’s call.

     The bear would follow Sami around the new farm from day to night.

     “Whatcha following me for?” the little girl said to the cub. “I got no scraps for you,”

     The little bear didn’t need to say anything.  He just liked to look into Sami’s eyes and jumped about near her.

     That is why Uncle Carl Poe started calling the little bear Grasshopper.  He hopped about like a grasshopper.

    This name was too long for Sami and she called the furry baby black bear Hopper.         

 

THE CANDY BUSH

 

     Where Sami went, her bear wanted to go too.  Where Hopper went, Sami followed.

The days of the two were spent together.

     Now began the adventures of Sami in the Hoosier woods.    

     Once there was a hag who lived in the Hoosier woods. She was mean to the forest animals and yelled at anyone who crossed her path. She looked like she had both pig and crocodile blood in her ancestry. She also liked to scream like her mother, a banshee lady named Lady GoGo.

     When she was young, this hag had loved only one thing.  This was a certain bush that grew in the woods near Brandywine crick and at the entry to the bower she lived in. She loved to smell the bush’s beautiful flowers and she spent more and more of her time next to it enjoying whiffs of its sweet perfumes. Then the idea came into her mind that candy would be better than the beauty of flowers.

     Soon she only found pleasure in eating candy.  She was born with only a few magical powers and she used them all up on enchanting this bush.  She caused this bush to bloom candy. It bore pounds of candy at a time and this hag ate them up as fast as they appeared on the bush.

     Once she magically turned the bush to a candy maker she stayed within the ambit of this candy bush eating its sugary candy.  Her weight increased dramatically month by month.  Soon she could not move except with such lurching movements that the earth shook.  Then she became so huge that she turned into a hill next to the bush.

     One morning, Sami and Hopper were left to play by Uncle Carl Poe and they decided to cross the Brandywine Crick on a huge cottonwood tree that had been blown down and straddled the crick. It was a beautiful day.  Above the clouds were as white as wool and they drifted jauntily in blue skies.

     Once on the other side, Sami and Hopper walked down the crick a ways and then followed a deer path into the woods. Here there were groves of maple, elm and beech which the sunshine sifted through. The going was rough at first. The branches of stripling trees and poplars mingled with each other and tangles had to be brushed aside.

     The two lost sight of Brandywine Crick and their own path. They had other amazing fascinations. Birds were warbling and ravines provided steep mud banks to climb and slide down into the grasses and vines and mossy rocks at the bottom.

     Then they came across the most alluring feature of all.

     Up ahead in a clearing they found a candy bush with its branches loaded down with sweets and bonbons and licorice and caramels and candy canes and gummies and sours and lollipops and toffees.

     Each one of the candies on the limbs was colorful and different.  Some were chocolaty and some were marshmallowy and gooey.  Others were the kind of sugary globs that are so much fun and so easy to suck on.

     Sami immediately went to the bush and pulled off a huge sucker.

     Hopper did the same and the two were so busy eating candy that the time passed quickly and it was nightfall.

     “What shall we do?” Sami said.  “I don’t remember how to get home.”

    Hopper couldn’t help either. “I don’t know what happened to the path,” he said looking about in bewilderment. The two clutched hand to paw and tried to figure out what to do.

     Just then the hill arose up into the air and the gigantic hag looked down on Sami and Hopper.  Her face was distinct and her eyes were sobbing.  The wailing resulted in huge streams of tears.

      “I am so sorry,” the hag said.  “I am afraid I am the one who has gotten you into this trouble.”

      The children were startled at the hag’s appearance and were further taken aback by her words.

     “I cannot move.  I cannot help you return to your homes,” she said. “But, children, if you can leave, you must never return to this place.  Do you see what has happened to me? I was once a child such as you but I wasted my life on eating candy until I became so big that I am now a hill.”
      Then the hill hag began to cry even harder. They were tears of her sadness about the lost opportunities in her life simply to fill herself with candy. The tears of the hill were accompanied by terrible moaning and sorrowful sighs and whining.

     The tears were so continuous and plentiful that they flowed down the groaning and wailing hill under the influence of gravity flowing ever lower and lower and pointing out a pathway down to Brandywine Crick.

     “Quick,” Sami said. “Let’s follow this stream of her tears.  They will surely flow downhill and down to the crick and we can follow it back to our home.”
     As the children left to follow the stream of her tears to find their ways home, the hill cried more and more. As they kept going along the stream of tears, Sami and Hopper themselves started crying.  Then they noticed the plants and animals touched by the stream began to cry in sadness also. When a life is wasted on gluttony, all of nature is gloomy and broken hearted.

      The streams of tears had another effect.  As they descended from the hill the tears began to erode the hill bit by bit and chunk by chunk until the hill was totally washed away and destroyed.  With it, the enchantment of the candy bush ended and the bush returned to its former form and once again began to bear beautiful and fresh smelling flowers.  It returned to being one of the Hoosier mock oranges, a beautiful flowering shrub with sweetly scented white four-petaled blossoms.

    

LIFE SETTLES DOWN

 

     At first Uncle Carl Poe was grouchy from his bear bite.  He had to keep his arm, bitten by the he-bear, in a buckskin sling. Then over the next days his arm healed slowly.  Some of the flesh around the wound got a little scary looking so he put some maggots in there to eat away the deadest of the flesh.  It felt funny with all those little squirmers worming around in there but when he took off the bandage he had wrapped them in the skin was fresh, healthy and renewed.

     He never forgot the bite and a big scar was there to remind him too. It looked like a heart on top of an outline of the State of Indiana.

     Mother Nature helped him deal with the awful pain and kept reminding him that he had two wards now to take care of.  That made living with the pain a lot easier.

     If he had not been wearing such a heavy buckskin jacket who knows whether his arm might have been bit off when that great big bear had chawed on him.
     Hopper, the bear cub, never knew he was involved in such trouble.  He became wonderfully tame and drank eagerly from a pan of milk.  He was too small to know how to lap so Uncle Carl Poe put his hands in the pan and held up a finger for the cub to suck on.  Sami would laugh and laugh as Hopper nosed around in the pan looking for Uncle Carl Poe’s finger. Then she too would demand his finger and show Hopper how to do it more respectably.

          Now that Uncle Carl Poe had his brother’s cow to raise he had to extend his barn meant only for his horse Mindy for a cattle shelter too. The west end of the old barn had such a fine board wall that Uncle Carl Poe had a terrible quandary. Should he cut off that fine example of his workmanship to extend the barn or what?  The more he thought about it the more puzzled he got.  He didn’t want to have to build another wall some time later. Think of all the work that would be?  How could he make another partition so fine as the one already there?  The answer was to simply cut the nice old wall off at the top and bottom, and pull it up like a flap that he could lower again if the new extension of the barn got too big. He used ropes to hold the old wall up there over the interior of the old part of his barn. No need for him to go repeating his former work if later on he needed a “divider.” If he had a need for a “new wall” he had an “old wall” ready for lowering. Uncle Poe thought to himself, “Aren’t I the smartest cuss!”    
     There was no one around at the time to comment.

THE NIGHT BUNNY

    

      Sometimes Sami was mopey and sad when she first came to Uncle Carl Poe’s cabin. 
There was no getting around it. 

     The springtime helped.  Brighter days meant Sami could spend more time outside. The sunshine lifted her spirits. As April had come, so had the last frost gone. Its silvery morning blanket was put away.

     The sky above was clear and cloudless and the sun arose in the sky.

     When Sami went outside that morning, she simply could not stop crying.  She wept
and wept and Uncle Carl Poe could not comfort her.  She missed her mother and father so
much. When dear ones are taken away, it takes a lot of getting over.

     While Sami was crying so, a pop-eyed bunny hopped close to her and looked her

straight in the eye.

   Then she recited a poem,

        “A wee little worm in a hickory nut
                        Sang happy as can be, -
          O I live in the heart of the whole round world
                        And it all belongs to me!” 

     The bunny looked so funny telling the poem that Sami had to laugh.

     “Who are you?” Sami asked.

     Somehow Sami knew this bunny could talk. She looked so intelligent. Her nose

quivered and sniffed close to Sami. The rabbit had huge feet and ears! Her coat was

fluffy white and she was three feet tall almost as tall as Sami herself.

      “I am the Night Bunny,” the bunny said.

      “But it is not night,” Sami said.

     “I don’t mean that kind of night.  I mean the night of gloom. You miss your parents

don’t you?” the bunny said.

      “Yes, but I don’t remember enough about them. All I can remember are things like

how fresh my mother smelled and the way my dad’s face felt against my hand when he

held me and kissed my goodnight. I remember his whiskers were bristly and scratchy

rough. My parents made me so happy and laugh.  When I didn’t feel good, my mother

always wanted to hold a hand or offer me a warm blanket if I was cold.”

       The Night Bunny blinked so hard it made a clatter. She said, “I have heard you

crying for your father and mother. I feel the tears welling up when children cry.  The

sadness brings me to them and they brought me to you.”

       The Night Bunny then leaned up closer against Sami until she felt fuzzy and the Night Bunny said, “I remember lots of tears about you.  I first remember tears of joy when your mother cried first when you were born.  I heard your mother counting your fingers and toes and she cried for joy when they were all there. Then she cried when she feared she did not believe she had enough milk in her breasts to keep you alive. And then you had terrible fevers as a baby and she cried through many a night in rocking you in her arms.  Her tears were bountiful and righteous and I have been swept through the skies ever since on the alert for you on their behalf. One of these days I will take you to see her.”

     “I want to see her very much,” Sami said.  “I love Uncle Carl Poe but I want my
mother and father.”
     “How would you like to come with me?”
     “Okay,” Sami said.
     The little girl followed the Night Bunny as she hopped through the woods and finally the two came across a clearing. In the center of the clearing was Mother Nature.  She was larger than anyone else and very athletic.  She was wearing a shining blue sunbonnet that flopped around and a glowingly bright green gown sewn with jewels of amethyst, rosy quartz, gold and diamonds. There was the glow of day and the shine of sunny beams of light wherever she went.  This clearing was her place to support and love.
     The Night Bunny took Sami to her.
     Mother Nature greeted Sami with the most beautiful smile and hug. Sami was not afraid. Having Mother Nature look upon her made Sami want to breathe in the forest air.
     “Welcome, Sami,” Mother Nature said.  “I was hoping you would come see me today.”
 A fearsome hawk landed on her shoulder to show her its injured wing and flew away refreshed. It felt good to simply be in her presence.
     Mother Nature escorted Sami to the feast table.  It was miles long and very noisy.
The squirrels were demanding groundnuts. The deer wanted leaves of wildflowers. A hive of hornets arrived from their nest knocked to the ground buzzing for pollen. A confused muskrat looked around. Two elderly pigs collapsed on chairs. Other creatures both winged and earthbound screeched or chirped or chatted or yelled or barked or stomped about desiring a fast meal.
     But in front of each Mother Nature merely set a bowl of the proper size.
     Sami noticed on the table a nest of ants. They were shaking themselves and drying off from a flooded ant hill. Mother Nature did not brush them off but instead lifted a pitcher from the table and poured out a tiny dish of broth for each of them.
     “Sit down here for a moment, Sami,” Mother Nature said. She was very assertive and said exactly what she thought.
     Mother Nature left for a moment and returned with a special girl-size bowl and set it in front of Sami. She brought other bowls too for others she was seating at the table. Others left the table to go on their individual journeys. A motherless
fawn nuzzled close to Sami and licked her on the face. They drew comfort from each other. A duck with a torn wing came over and lay at Sami’s feet. Sami felt its soft feathers and was filled with the wonder of the variety of the world.
     Mother Nature returned with another pitcher of her broth and filled Sami’s bowl.          
     “Do not give up!” she said to Sami and several
downcast squirrels awaiting nut season.
      Sami took a sip of the broth from a wooden spoon.
       Immediately Sami felt better and soon she began to laugh easily and went over to hug an Indian woman and her two fatherless children with a smile that meant that all was well. Mother Nature joined her and gave the squaw a leather sack filled with kernels of corn to plant. She promised her provision until a crop could grow.
     As Mother Nature departed from time to time, there came sadness which disappeared upon her return with another pitcher of her broth for the many guests of her feast. She tousled the hair of the little furry creatures passing by looking for their lost families.  These were love touches that no hatred of the world could lay a hand on or destroy.
     “Would you help me pass out these dishes?” Mother Nature asked Sami.
     Sami did so happily.
     As Sami set the bowls out along the table, she heard a mouse ask Mother Nature where pigweeds were growing. Behind her was a crowd of woods mice looking very hungry. Mother Nature smiled and pointed out a path to where the nuts of the pigweed plants would be in abundance. It seemed like Mother Nature knew everything.
     A hop frog jumped on Sami and whispered in her ear. “Yes. Yes,” Sami said. “I know
where Brandywine Crick is and I will take you with me.”  Sami popped the frog into her
pocket. After drinking the broth, Sami realized how important it is to be kind and caring
of others. She remembered that her place was not at this feast but at her home.

    “It is time for me to leave,” Sami said to Mother Nature as she looked around for the
Night Bunny.  “Will the Night Bunny take me home?”
     “No, no,” Mother Nature said. “The Night Bunny has other work to do. Now wash up.”
     “Where is the soap?” Sami asked.
     Rays of sun were beaming down and Mother Nature told her to cup her hands, catch the beams and splash her face. Then she said, “You can find your own way after drinking my stew of courage.”

THE MOON LADY

 

     Once as the beginnings of life began to unfold, a horrible creature was accidentally created.

      It was blue and fang- toothed on a short body with huge skull and a long flattened nose that extended two feet beyond the head capable of catching the scent of a prey.  It was the size of a human being but had two legs much longer than its short frame.  Its body looked like a basketball.  It could lope about or alternatively bounce along to obtain greater speed and overtake any fleeing victim. The fangs were sharp teeth in an enormous over-sized mouth.  Over each eye was a barbel which was light producing and permitted the gruesome creature to see in the dark as it probed the woods at night.  The light was not a steady one but instead flashed on and off and the barbels could be manipulated either to the front or side so that the night creature could observe in every direction. The creature also had a long whip like tail and its mouth was loosely hinged so that it could contain an entire child in one bite.  Inside the mouth were rows of suction cups to hold the prey.  The back was covered with an armor plated shell and its flabby underbody was covered with tiny spines.  Its globular eyeballs looked like those of a dog.  The creature also had short arms covered by tooth like spikes to hold whatever is grabbed.  The last of its horrible characteristics was a single long venomous curved spike that emerged from its back that could kill with a single sting.

     The horrid looking creature was so wicked that God whisked it off the face of the earth and sent it up into the blue sky where it continued to live in a potential sort of way. Its evil way of life could not exist on the earth where it might confront wholesome and more common ones. Sunlight passed through its essence but moonlight, not nearly so strong, provided it energy to reassemble its dreaded self and descend from the blue sky in moon rays to seek a home below. Often the beams of moonlight blew it into the blue lit shadowy surface of the night woods. Only when there was a full moon was the power of this great blue evil able to manifest itself fully.

      In the blue sky the horrible creature reproduced itself and awaited an opportunity to return to its surface life.

      It was a few nights after Uncle Carl Poe brought Hopper home with Sami to raise that Hopper grew restless. Who could blame the small bear?  He was used to being in a cave with a mother and father bear to provide him company.  Now he was paired up with a little girl, Sami, in a log cabin very different from what he was used to.

     Sami woke up to hearing her friend whimpering and crying in little tempestuous sobs.

     Sami tried hugging the little bear and tickling him to change his mood but nothing helped.

     “Hey, I am trying to sleep,” Uncle Carl Poe said.

     Sami decided to slip outside with the little bear out into the moonlight spring night air.

     She thought to cradle and rock her sobbing and whiny friend without disturbing her uncle.

     Outside was the rough chair that Uncle Carl Poe liked to sit in for hours at a time. Sami sat down on it with her little bear friend Hopper.

     Up above in the sky was a full moon. It was round and intense as if merely a symbol of something or else a representative of a form that formalized itself as a white circle. It was like seeing a bright light in the woods at night and knowing it marked the location of a house. When a ship is at sea a light over the water reveals a ship is floating by.  Something flying overhead seeing a glow below knows he passes over a city.  The moon is like that.

     This moon marked the presence of the woman of the night, the Moon, who observed from above the happenings of the night below on earth.

     Then she noticed that the blue shadows of the night seemed to be moving all about the edge of the log cabin clearing.

     Horrible creatures were rushing toward her. They looked like voracious basketballs with their mouths opening and closing revealing sharp teeth shining in the blue light of the full moon. Their long pole-noses waved about ahead of them like deadly probes.

      “Let’s get out of here,” Sami screamed at her bear and together the two rushed back into the log cabin.  Fortunately there were no windows in Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin so the creatures of the shadowy blue light could not enter.

    Uncle Carl Poe was so soundly asleep that Sami did not tell him about their fearful encounter until the next day.

     The following morning, there were no traces of any evil creatures. The horrid monstrous shadow-creatures could only exist in the blue shadows of moonlit woods.

     The full moon had only a single day left in its phase and it might have been easy for Uncle Carl Poe and Sami and Hopper to simply forget about their encounter with the blue things from the moonlight except that Uncle Carl Poe would not let the incident be forgotten.

     If there were monsters out in the woods he wanted to get Longun, his musket, and go out and kill them.  He was not going to share his homestead with scary creatures that frightened his children.  No way.

     The next night Uncle Carl Poe loaded up his musket and told the children to stay behind him. Then he went outside. It was the last night of the five day “full moon” phase of the lunar presence.

     The moon was full and shining as a bright circle in the sky as it had for the prior four days.

     Uncle Carl Poe walked slowly and carefully further out into the yard.

     “Come out you chickens!” Uncle Carl Poe called out. “Try scaring me instead of children!”

     The shadows from the forest trees had fallen and the woods turned its shade of blue light in the shining of the moonlight.

     Suddenly as if falling down with the moonbeams came the violent horrid creatures.  This time they were out for blood and they began creeping toward Uncle Carl Poe and the children.

     Uncle Carl Poe had only time to get off one round and blew through one of the monsters sending ugly grey body fragments and parts everywhere.

     While re- loading his gun, Uncle Carl Poe failed to notice that some of the creatures circled around behind him and blocked a return entry back into the log cabin.

      Then all of the creatures again began to advance on Sami and Hopper and Uncle Carl Poe. This time they were angry and shouting

     “Lurloo?” one of them said to their leader.

     “Yes,” the man now identified as their leader said. “What is it?”
      “The winnow welvers are spirking!”
     “Destroy their tcheuckers before they spray and teeter and drawl.”

     All of this must have meant something to the creatures in their foul language but it meant nothing to Sami.  What it did was to cause the blue light monsters to build up speed.

     “Run! Run!” shouted Uncle Carl Poe.

     Sami and Hopper didn’t have to wait to do as they were bid.

     Down the path by Brandywine Crick ran Uncle Carl Poe and Sami and Hopper as fast as they could.

     Behind them came the blood lusting creatures.  Some were running and some were bouncing and the lights from their barbels bobbed and shined here and there and created eerie silhouettes while they kept Sami and her bear and her uncle in sight.

     The path was crooked with sharp turns and ruts and occasional deep mud holes. It was difficult for the creatures to speed along due to their unbalance from long nose and whip-like tails catching onto forest plants. As they ran the chased ones could smell their horrid breath and almost feel the steely spines and sharp poisonous spikes rip through their clothing and into their tender flesh.

     There in the path was a sweet doe. When the deer saw the entourage speeding down the path she froze at the spot.

     One of the noses of a lead creature touched the doe and immediately the evil creature’s mouth opened to reveal the suction cups within which could hold the innocent forest animal while the huge mouth expanded to encase the deer within.

     When Sami saw this, she immediately looked about and found a branch and smashed the nose of the evil creature until it withdrew with an OOOOOOOhhhh! The threatened deer rushed off into the forest.

     Then Sami caught up with the rest and the chase resumed.

     Then off to the side of the path, Hopper noticed an isolated spot he had not seen before. It was surrounded by huge flowers with a single white blossom looking like an open saucer.  There were many of these flowers and they surround a special spot.  The forest had parted here and there was a cultivated look to the place.  It was rather like a tended garden where the grasses were regularly mowed and weeds were removed.

     In the middle of this location was a bier like a bed with a body lying on top.

     Uncle Carl was following on behind, huffing and puffing.  It did not appear the human being on the bed was in very good shape.

     Behind him, were the creatures closing in.

     “Let’s duck in here!” Sami shouted.

     “Yes,” Uncle Carl Poe said.  “It may be our only chance.  Let’s sneak in here before the creatures see us.”

     The three of them stole in between the tall saucer blossomed plants until they were hidden out of sight.  In the meantime, the creatures continued on down the path.  The ruse had worked at least temporarily.

     Once all of them were inside the charmed circle, they looked around and directed their attention on the man on the bier.

     Just then the man on the stony bed sat up.  His eyes had been opened the entire time.

     Sami went over to look at him more closely.  Then she asked him his name.

     The man did not respond.

     Hopper came over and he tried to take the man’s hand but the man’s hand fell limply to the side.

     “Be careful of that man,” Uncle Carl Poe warned.   “He may be dangerous.”

     There didn’t seem to be any reason to fear this man.  He was not holding a weapon of any sort and there were no weapons that could be seen.

     Then Uncle Carl Poe went over to see what was going on.

     The man was youthful, in his early thirties looking, and handsome. He had blue eyes on a face with a pale olive skin coloring and black hair pulled back into a pony tail. He had a short trimmed beard that circled his face. He must have been about six feet tall and was healthy and strongly built but not a bodybuilder type. He was wearing a robe and sandals.

     Uncle Carl Poe tried to talk to him and asked him who he was but the man continued to fail to answer.  Nor did the man turn his head to look at any of his visitors or turn his head in response to their questions.

     “I think this man is asleep,” Sami said.

     “How can you tell?” Hopper wanted to know.

     “He doesn’t answer questions,” Sami said.

     “But his eyes are open!” Hopper said.

     “Well, I suppose some people sleep that way,” Sami responded.”…especially if they are under some kind of spell.”

      Uncle Carl Poe was more concerned about everyone’s safety. “Come on,” he said, “While those creatures are running the other way, let’s get out of here and get back to the house.”

     In fact the sounds of returning blue creatures could be heard clattering down the path back toward them.

     “If they make a thorough search – and they know we have been here – they will find him,” Hopper said pointing to the man.

     “Do something, Uncle,” Sami begged.

     As much as Uncle Carl Poe would have liked to leave the man behind, he realized Sami was right. Something must be done.

     “Wake up!  Wake up!” Uncle Carl Poe whispered as loudly as he could into the man’s ear.  But the man did not and apparently could not wake up.

      To leave this vulnerable sleeping man there would have been akin to murdering him.

     “We cannot leave this man here,” Sami said.  “Surely those monsters will eat him. You must try to carry him back with us.”

     With resignation, Uncle Carl Poe pulled the man over his stocky shoulders like a sack of grain.  The man did not respond in any way.  He simply looked ahead to where Uncle Carl Poe was carrying him

     As they were leaving and bending over to make their way out of the bower of the huge blossomed flowers, the critters arrived and entered the bower.  They began sniffing around it with their long noses that got in each other’s ways until some were tied up together in knots and the others got their long tails entwined and the more they rushed about and rolled about and tried to run here and there the more disorganized and angry at each other they became.

     Nevertheless, they eventually freed themselves from each other and continued the chase after Sami and the others down the crick path and back towards the log cabin.

     Despite the heavy load, Uncle Carl Poe was able to halfway hurry back down the path lit up by the blue moonlight and the little group saw ahead their log cabin and quickly re-entered it slamming the door shut tightly so that no light except the hearth coals lit up their home. When the last rays of the moonlight were shut out, Sami and Hopper and Uncle Poe settled back into their chairs in the log cabin and gave out a great sigh of relief.

     Sami told Uncle Carl Poe that she would give up her bed to the man if he wished to lay the man there until they could figure out what to do.

     After awhile, Sami became brave enough to want to go outside and see if she could hear the monsters about.

     As she walked outside, it suddenly became very dark out.

     The full moon overhead disappeared entirely.

     However, in Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin front yard, the same glow shined as if the moon had reappeared and stepped forth.

     It was a beautiful shining woman. She was as young and as fresh appearing as morning dew. On her head was a headdress bearing a shiny moon.

     As they watched, this woman of the lunar light settled herself and looked about. Seeing Sami, she walked over to her.  Just as she did so, the man inside, seeing the bright moonlight emanating in the front yard of the log cabin through the log cabin’s open door arose in his sleep and he walked outside.  When the two saw each other, they embraced.

     “My beloved,” the woman said laughing with joy.

      The sleeping man’s face smiled with the joy of reunion with his immortal spouse.

     “I thought I had lost my husband,” the Moon said.  “He is a mortal and he would have been dead ages ago if I had not been able to have him live on so long as he was not awake.”
     Then the moon looked about.  “Why is he here?”
     Sami mentioned how the monsters rode the blue rays of the moon down to the earth and threatened them with their lives.

     The moon was very angry to hear this.

     But then she became even more angry when the evil looking creatures appeared at the edge of the log cabin yard.

     “There they are,” the great Lurloo said and he pointed at Sami and Hopper and Uncle Carl Poe.  “Get them,” he shouted.

     But the Moon threw down seeds upon the earth and as the huge white flowers grew instantly and opened their blossoms toward the critters, the light of the moon that was energizing the critters began to be absorbed into the blossoms just as their energizing blue rays of the moonlight were drawn in.  Soon they had been devoured by the lovely flowers.

     “They have tried to terrorize the earth many times,” the Moon said. “It was for this reason that I planted my moon flowers about the woods.  On the days of the full moon my flowers absorb the blue rays of my light destroying their energy and their routes down to earth.”

     “Did you have these flowers planted around the bower where your husband sleeps?” Hopper asked.

     “Yes,” the Moon said. “Just as the flowers of the day absorb the sunlight and grow, so do my night flowers absorb the moonlight and grow. You may return to the bower and find the seeds to plant around your cabin. Apparently I missed this spot when I have cast the seeds of my moonflowers over the rest of the earth.”

      “But we have never seen such flowers before?” Sami said.

      “No, to most people they are invisible.  Only when the blue critters are attacking have I caused their magical existence to be observable so that people can assemble around them and find safety.  Some call these flowers Moontropes,” she said.

     After saying these things, the Moon vanished with her husband and after a time up in the sky the full moon reappeared.

     Now when the beautiful huge white blossoms of the moonflower appear suddenly about in the woods or in your yard, relax because horrid blue creatures energized by moonlight are being absorbed away. 

 

FINDING MURDEROUS


     After Twyster the tornado transported Sparkles, the cow, oh so gently in a sweep through the tornado wind with a thud ending in his front yard, the old cow finally settled down so that Uncle Carl Poe could milk her for his two new wards: Sami and Hopper, the little bear.  They slurped the milk from the same bowl about equally.  At first, Uncle Carl Poe didn’t have enough gumption to own but one bowl.

     After dinner Sparkles the cow confronted Hopper, “Here’s my deal.  You like my milk? Then you need to help me find my sweet baby calf Murderous. I haven’t seen her since she got out of her corral over at Brother William’s cabin before the storm.”

     Hopper liked his milk so he had to agree.     

     Hopper got Sami to join the search and they headed over to the site of the burned out log cabin of Brother William and Sue Ellen. Along the way they heard loud hollering and wailing. Hearing a calf bawl is one of the most depressing sounds in nature. 

     Murderous, the baby calf, was high up in a sugar maple tree where she landed after Twyster, the tornado, dropped her off there. She was at the very top of a hundred foot tall tree and she was holding on for dear life. She was befuddled and looked odd at being up in a tree.  Her spindly awkward legs were circling the air like propellers. Her ears shaped like eggs were rigid and stretched out like antennae listening for aid. Underneath her rectangular pink nose, her little mouth was bawling out, “I want my mama!”

     A hundred feet off the ground is very high up for a calf. A sugar maple tree is a tall tree and not just a beautiful tree with a yellowish cast in the spring when its flowers blossom. A calf thrashing around will NOT knock it down. Its wood is hard, strong, close-grained and its bark is dark gray and furrowed into long plates.

      Murderous was simply stuck in the midst of branches and the thick three lobed maple leaves and winged fruit packets.

     Thank goodness the little calf was making such a lot of noise.  It allowed Hopper and Sami to find her.

     But how could they get the little calf down from her treetop perch?
     Then another danger arose.  Just as Sami and Hopper found her, a cougar appeared at the base of the tree.  The cougar must have heard the bawling of the little calf caught in the branches. It started to climb the tree.  It looked like the cougar might be expecting to turn Murderous into a quick meal.

     Sami and Hopper saw the danger and ran under the tree.

     As the cougar got closer and closer, Sami began yelling to the calf, “Jump. Jump.”

     Murderous heard the calls and attempted to look down from her very high perch at the top of the sugar maple tree.  She couldn’t see anything because of the thick spring leaf display.  She couldn’t make up her mind what to do.

     “Who are you down there?” Murderous called out.

     Sami replied, “Your mother Sparkles asked us to find you.  Now you must jump.  We will catch you.  You are in danger up there.”  Sami tried to sound as serious as she had ever been about anything.  Hopper joined her under the tree and both Sami and Hopper tried to entwine their arms so that they could become a net to catch the little calf.

     “I can’t jump,” the little calf yelled down.  “I can’t see you.”
     “You don’t need to see us,” Sami said.  “The only important thing is for us to see you.”

     “I don’t know you,” Murderous bawled. “I want my mammmma.”

     Sami called up, “You have to believe us. We are here to help you. I know it’s hard to imagine but please believe us.  We will catch you!”

     The cougar had reached the limb where the branches were holding the little calf.

     Murderous said, “If I let go, I won’t have anything to hold on to!”

     “Let go. Your life depends on it.”

     “Here I come,” Murderous shouted down and squirmed her way to freedom from her maple tree branch prison.

     Down she came through other branches and a small explosion of leaves and the ruckus of some birds that had nests on the lower limbs.

     Sometimes you simply have to let go to be saved. Sometimes trusting in someone is the only way.

     Sami and Hopper moved about and moved about until they were under the descending calf and caught her.  With a last leap, Murderous landed.

     The bewildered calf allowed Sami to carry her like a little lamb. They made a strange cavalcade traveling through the woods and the along the crick bluffs and down.  They hurried along and didn’t loiter at a single pool or shoal.

     Soon up ahead was the safety of Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin. They took Sparkles to the barn with the gourds growing up the sides and over.

     Sparkles couldn’t have been happier to get her sweet little calf back and she gave Uncle Carl Poe a double measure of milk out of gratitude. Now Sparkles was happy and content. She took to being Uncle Carl Poe’s cow.

     After milking, Uncle Carl Poe let Sparkles loose and she quickly headed into the woods. Murderous was happy in the barn lot playing with Sami. The old cow was used to the woods and she wasn’t afraid of a cougar.

     No one in the woods other than Twyster would mess with Sparkles, the pioneer cow.  Settler cows were forces to be reckoned with. They could take care of themselves. Sparkles was not just a little reddish milker with the long horns of her English longhorn ancestors; she was also very able to take care of herself. She could horn almost any interference with those horns that swept down and around her head with their sharp black tips on white bone.  Sparkles grazed around the woods without worrying much about predators.  Even cougars had respect for her horns.

     At night Sparkles returned to her log cabin home to nurse her baby girl calf.  Everyone knows a calf needs momma’s milk and Sparkles provided what she could to hers.  If people wanted more than that they could milk her all they wanted but there wasn’t going to be much.  Uncle Carl Poe was glad to have Sparkles at his place because he needed some milk for his youngsters.

UNCLE MAHARAJA

 

     The great Seer of Mysore poured over the images that were appearing in his magical brew pot. The placid surface was like a mirror revealing face after face of every race and nationality. The pictures appeared in rapid succession and included the visage of every human being on the globe.  Every face was different and only the right one could be selected. A new maharaja was needed. The death of the Rajmata, childless wife of Nripenda, the last Maharaja of Mysore had left the throne of his Indian princely kingdom vacant.  It was up to the great Seer to find the successor.
     Finally the face of Uncle Carl Poe appeared in the suddenly calm surface reflection in the holy brew. Uncle Carl Poe was holding a raccoon tail that he had just shot off a scampering woods creature and had a big wide-mouthed grin on his face. The background of the face was the vana of the New Purchase, a place ideal for a sublime choice.
     “Yes,” the seer said.  “I have located the new maharaja” and he zoomed out as one expands a computer image. “The Mahratta state is saved.” This man will be the perfect choice.
     Now that the successor Maharaja had been identified he must be returned to the greatest of the interior states in India where he would reign supreme or supremely under the thumb of the great Seer.

     After convening a full conference of the Court, the great Seer announced that the successor Maharaja had been found with the aid of the gods and ordered that the bark of the state must be fitted out and the Selected One must be returned to the Amba Vilas, the rightful palace home of the ruler of this vast and wealthy place.

     Just above the tree line, the beautiful official vessel of the kingdom could be seen advancing over and through the Hoosier woods.  Instead of sails, the vessel had rows and rows of the famous Demira birds sacred to the god Trushna and endowed with incredible strength. The ship had flown in placid skies to the land of the Hoosiers with incredible speed and now was set down in a clearing near the Brandywine Crick.

     The idea was to bring the new ruler back to India as soon as possible.

     Upon landing, the great Seer directed that the planks be lowered and his own personal elephant, Raj, be released to transport him along the crick path toward the home of Uncle Carl Poe.  The elephant was loaded up with the finest of the premium valuables of the kingdom to seal the deal for Uncle Carl Poe to take the offer to become the world’s richest ruler.

     The great Seer mounted his elephant and selected a guard to accompany him. Then they proceeded towards the home of Uncle Carl Poe.
     Sami and Hopper were playing in front of the log cabin.

     “Get out of the way,” the great Seer yelled at the children and demanded with a dramatic wave of his hand as he dismounted and went to knock on the door.  The children were shushed away and out of the path of the important man.

      Uncle Carl Poe was inside his log cabin relaxing on the floor in front of the hearth with a huge pot of deer stew casting a delicious aroma that seemed to swirl about his nose.

     “Wake up my benefactor!” the great Seer demanded as he walked over to the resting supine fellow.

     When Uncle Carl Poe opened his eyes there in front of him was the strangest man he had ever seen.

      The great Seer stood over Uncle Carl Poe like a bear over his prey.
      This fellow starred without blinking at Uncle Carl Poe.  He had beady eyes like a falcon would have. One of the ropes he wore over his Seer outfit ended up with kind of a hangman’s noose. He wore a turban with a flat top looking like it was some kinds of golden threaded towels wrapped together. The tips of his mustache dropped down at the points of his nostrils.  His lower lip went out almost to nose length and his chin receded making one wonder if he had lower teeth. A deeply richly blue cloak was draped over his shoulders looking like silk with the outer surface festooned with white ribbons on the shoulder and a golden embroidered star over his upper arms. Its collar was golden and probably the real stuff. He wore a black dress which was tied around his torso with a golden embroidered belt with sashes descending from the front down to its lower cuff.  The sashes had every color of the rainbow in them and were gathered at a neat yellow bowtie near where his belly button would be. He wore white pants under his dress and green slippers on his feet.  Over his chest was another crisscross of colorful metallic threaded sashes and several necklaces and medallions and badges were displayed. It wasn’t obvious if he had socks on because the white pants went down to his heels. It was clear this man was the real thing.

     “I am taking you back to the great sapphire and diamond throne of my land.  You shall be the new maharaja of Mysore,” the great Seer said.

     Uncle Carl Poe quickly stood up to confront the little man with the parrot clothes.

     “You want me to leave my log cabin?” Uncle Carl Poe asked in disbelief.  He waved his arms in a gesture that was meant to draw attention to the interior of his home. “You want me to leave this?” Uncle Carl Poe said in disbelief.

     “You shall be the master of much, much more,” the great Seer said. “Your new home will shine like the sun with gold. Hundreds of your log cabin would fit into a single durbar hall of your Court and you will have several such halls. You will preside over fine ceremonies in these halls. The arches of your palace are as numerous as the trees of your forest.  It is not wood but three stories of the finest gray granite with deep pink marble domes flanking the central arch supported by tall pillars. You shall be the world’s richest man after your coronation.”

     “I will not go with you,” Uncle Carl Poe told him.

     “What?” the great Seer said. “You would give up all the riches in the world to live in this miserable hole!”

     “Look, bud!” Uncle Carl Poe said. “Don’t talk bad about my own little palace here. I got me a gun and I am asking nicely for you to vamoose. That means ‘GET OUT!’”

     “NOT UNTIL YOU COME WITH ME,” the great Seer commanded out in a sing song commanding tone.
      “I will not.”    

     “Oh yes you will.”

     “You cannot make me go with you,” Uncle Carl Poe stammered.  Then he thought fast. “You cannot make me go with you because my magic is too strong.”

     The great Seer was dumbfounded. “What do you mean? I am the magician.  I control the spells and curses.”

     “If you try to arrest me, why I…I…” Uncle Carl Poe stammered.

     “What?”

      “I will disappear into the sky and come back with my friend the thunderbolt king and he will bring his lightning.”

     “Oh, really!”
     “Yes indeed,” Uncle Carl Poe said. He went to the door to show the great Seer out and when he looked out the door he saw the great hovering ship which had alighted and was now over the log cabin of Uncle Carl Poe with archers on its deck pointing their weapons at the log cabin.

     Uncle Carl Poe laughed at the sight. Then he addressed the great Seer again, “Now get back on board that flying boat of yours and go home.”
     “No, my maharaja,” the great Seer said bowing and nodding his turbaned head. “I cannot leave here without taking back with me our new Lord of the Universe.”

     As they were hearing this, the archers overhead joined in the chant, “Gumba! Gumba!” which means: “We cannot return to our nation without you, our new ruler.”
     Uncle Carl Poe turned, kicked the great Seer out of his log cabin and ran back into the log cabin and locked the door. 

     Then he heard the soldiers of the Mahratta moving around outside.
     “Arrest him,” the great Seer demanded.

     Uncle Carl Poe ran to pull out Longun.  But there were too many troops of the great Seer for him to be able to survive a shootout.

     Sami and Hopper ran into the log cabin to join her uncle and he hugged her tightly.

     Uncle Carl Poe said to her, “Sami, listen very carefully.  I am going to jump into my whisky barrel and you must roll me outside and over my Indian Hiding Hole. I will jump out and you must wait there only a second until I can install its false bottom. Then keep rolling it on a little ways and stop and tell this fellow that the barrel seems empty. When they see I have disappeared they will go away.”

     The great Seer went to the log cabin and called for Uncle Carl Poe to come out like a man!
     The door of the log cabin opened and Uncle Carl Poe came out in his barrel being rolled along by Sami. While the troops of the Great Seer watched, Sami rolled the barrel away in a bumpy zigzaggy route away from the log cabin.  Uncle Carl Poe was inside of course.

     The great Seer did not try to stop her but told some of his troops to follow her.

      Sami stopped over his Indian Hiding Hole and Uncle Carl Poe busted out the bottom of the barrel and slipped out pulling down the barrel’s false bottom as he left.  Then he pulled over his plate holding the wood’s plants to disguise the opening and hid.

     Sami was several feet away from the Indian Hiding Hole when the great Seer yelled, “Seize her.”
     “Go back into the cabin and bring your uncle out,” the great Seer demanded.

     Sami was released and opened the door.

     “Uncle Carl Poe???” she called out.

     No one appeared.
     “I guess he has gone off up into the sky again,” Sami said.  “He does that whenever he wants to. I guess that is one reason he wouldn’t be a very good maharajah for you guys.”

     The great Seer’s troops entered the log cabin and searched but failed to find Uncle Carl Poe.

     “He has disappeared into thin air,” one of them said.

     “Well if he doesn’t comeback by the count of ten you are a goner little girl,” the great Seer said very loudly.

     Uncle Carl Poe heard all of this from the safety of his Indian Hiding Hole and immediately changed his plan.

     Now he emerged from the hole and climbed a nearby tree and jumped down in front of the great Seer.

     “You let that little girl alone,” he demanded after he landed in front of an amazed great Seer.

     “So you are back,” the great Seer said.

     “Yes,” Uncle Carl Poe said. “I am back from my sky home and I am mad.”

     But he had also been thinking.

     “Let me consult with this child, actually a giant mushroom, whom you see as a little girl,” Uncle Carl Poe said.

     Uncle Carl Poe pulled Sami to the side.  He gave her instructions to sneak into the barn and when he directed to quickly lower the old barn partition hanging from the barn ceiling so as to divide the inside after he drew the great Seer’s elephant into the barn.

     Then Uncle Carl Poe confronted the great Seer.  “How do you know I will be living in a style I should be accustomed to?” he asked.

     “Your whim shall set in motion hundreds of slaves,” the great Seer said.

     “Well,” let me see the ship you brought with you,” he said.

      Soon the gangplank of the ship emerged and Uncle Carl Poe climbed onto the ship and bid it sail while he inspected his quarters.

      After a short time, Uncle Carl Poe said, “Not suitable for my travels” and he grabbed a rope and slid down to earth outside his log cabin.  In the meantime, Sami was inside the barn preparing to lower the ropes to partition the barn.

     Soon the great Seer and his troops assembled in front of Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin again and two of the guards held his arms.
     “Sorry,” Uncle Carl Poe said, “but your ship is not suitable. Now be gone or I shall order your kingdom to disappear.”

     “You cannot make Mysore disappear,” the great Seer said.

     “I will prove I can make anything disappear by making your elephant disappear,” Uncle Carl Poe said.

     “You think you can make Raj disappear?”

     “Yes,” Uncle Carl Poe said and he shook himself away from the guards and went over to the great Seer’s elephant and took its reins. Then Uncle Carl Poe led the great Seer’s elephant into his barn and quickly led him behind the partition and told Sami to give him the ropes so that he could lower the partition. He then dropped the partition.  Now the elephant was out of sight behind the partition.

     Uncle Carl Poe came out of the barn without the elephant.
     “He is gone,” Uncle Carl Poe said.  “So it will be with your kingdom if you don’t leave immediately.

     The great Seer opened the barn door and looked into the barn.  There was no sign of the elephant.

     “What have you done with my elephant,” the great Seer said angrily. “I loved that beast.  He was like the baby I never had.”
     Uncle Carl Poe said nothing at all

     Then the great Seer commanded his troops to search outside the barn and determine if there were elephant prints and to search the woods.

     “By the way,” Uncle Carl Poe said, “I have also caused your kingdom to disappear.”
     The great Seer was aghast.

     “Return our kingdom, your greatness, and return my elephant and we will leave this accursed place.”

     “You must first reenter your ship with all your troops,” Uncle Carl Poe demanded.
      As the Indians left and returned toward their flying ship, Uncle Carl Poe quickly reentered the barn, hauled the partition on the barn back up, released the elephant and led him back out.

     “Oh, Raj,” the great Seer said.

    “Farewell, Sahib,” the great Seer said to Uncle Carl Poe and the ship soon lifted into the sky and returned to India.

     “I could never leave you, Sami,” Uncle Carl Poe said.  “Not even for all the wealth of the world!” And he and Sami and Hopper dissolved into a big hug laughing uproariously.    

 

THE MOUSE CORONATION

    

     The next night Hopper and Sami heard a great hooooooooting. It was at once both eerie and scary. It had a forlorn aspect but it was also staccato like the old fashioned Morse code communication – ho-hooo, hoo - sending out a signal to them and enthrallingly and captivatingly melodious. The message was to get out of the log cabin and into the woods for an adventure. Ordinarily it is not a good idea to explore at night but the hooting was so loud and the adventure to investigate it so compelling that Sami and Hopper sneaked out of the log cabin and entered the forest to see what it was and if someone was signaling them to come.

     They followed the sound until they came across a mighty owl was in a tree. It was a Great Horned Owl, the wisest of birds but also a very stealthy and successful predator.  The owl did not seem to notice that Sami and Hopper had arrived.  It was too busy. The owl was keeping a steady eye on the stone below with its big yellow eyes like those of a cat set within an orange circle of a face outlined in black. The bird was huge. It was five foot long from tip to tip and its feather tufts resembled horns. They were not ears. It was hard to focus on because its coloring was brown and gray with black bar markings.

     As Sami and Hopper watched it from about twenty feet out, a mouse came over to them. The little thing had tears flowing down its slopy face saying, “Help we cannot crown our king and queen.”
     The little brown woods mouse, hardly as long as Sami’s finger was trembling with fright, her long whiskers shook nervously, and her bare hairless tail beat up and down alarmingly.

     “Why can’t you crown your king and queen?” Sami asked.

     “Don’t you see what is under that limb where the owl is?” the mouse said.

      Sami and Hopper looked under the limb and there was a tiny stone.

      The mouse continued, “That stone is our ancient coronation stone.  No mouse king or queen can be crowned unless they are standing on the coronation stone. Every time one of our royalty goes to stand on the coronation stone to be crowned, they disappear.”

      Sure enough, Sami and Hopper could see how the owl was perching itself and preening itself on the limb right over the mouse coronation stone.

     The mouse went on to explain how the bravest of their kind had attempted to make the coronation stone safe but mouse after mouse had been devoured by the owl.

      As Sami watched, one after another of the valiant knights of the mice tried to claim the ancient site but every time one tried the owl would swoop down and take up the critter and feast.

      “See,” the little mouse said to Sami. “See how our most courageous knights are being devoured?”
     Indeed Sami and Hopper were witnessing a sad tale. There was no telling how many of their soldiers have been swooped down on and eaten by the owl as they went to clear the coronation stone so the king and queen could be seated on it to be crowned.

     Underneath the owl’s limb was a rusted musket.  A horde of mice had dragged it to the site with fifty mice to a rope line.  Once there, they had aimed the weapon at the owl perched there on his limb and one of the mice jumped on the trigger but the gun did not go off and the owl flew down and gobbled up the shooters.  Then there was an attempted owl trap nearby.  The mice had gnawed down the biggest limbs they could and created a box trap with a rusty hinge they found at a settler’s log cabin.  One of the bravest of the mice agreed to be the bait and jumped into the trap. Then he called up to the owl, “Mr. Killer. I am here for you to get.” The owl promptly complied. He jumped down from his limb into the trap.  The mice that were supposed to close the trap door were too scared to jump on the hinge to close the trap and scampered away. The owl then jumped out after catching the mouse that was the bait and then the others.  Also, the remains of a fishing line were in a pile at the base of the tree. The mice were preparing to tie it there and then were hoping to tie the owl’s leg to the other end but before they could do any tying the owl pulled them up in the air on the line and then gobbled them down one at a time as they dangled tantalizingly in front of his beak yelling, “Be good now, Mr. Killer Owl.”

     On closer inspection, Sami and Hopper could see the coronation stone’s flat surface and inscriptions in the mouse language all the way around its base. Names of some of the early or greatest of the mice kings and queens were chiseled into its sides.

     Then other mice could be distinguished nearby. Crowding around the stone but at a distance were hundreds and hundreds of mischiefs of woods mice. They were like large waves of dusky gray or brown creatures, each not over an inch in height and roughly four times that in length excepting the tail. They were grouped in families and looking expectantly at the stone.

     They were waiting for their leader to be crowned the King of the Mice.

     The mice were in a great state of agitation wanting to crown their king at the shining coronation stone.

     Sami had to help.

     She picked up a handful of rocks and began to throw them at the mighty bird.

     “Get away from there, you mean creature!” Sami yelled.

     One of the rocks struck the owl in the head and the owl called out, “Beware.  Beware.  I am here to warn of the death of the forest. We owls are here to protect us all from ruin I tell you. That is what we owls do. I am the last of the Guardians watching over this place.”
     “Be gone!” Sami demanded and the rocks drove the owl away.

     Quickly the crowd of the mice divided and down the opened aisle between them emerged a fine looking mouse who was immediately crowned as their king.

     What happened next was not at all what Sami and Hopper had expected.

     A spell was broken and the mice turned into goblins. 

     Each of them was transformed but not in any orderly way. 

     Their skin was the same pale gray color as the mice had been but that was close to the only similarity. Otherwise their skin was crinkled in red wrinkles and their ears grew long tapering to a point looking like horns. Their tales disappeared. One began scratching his head with an arm that came out of its ear. Another took his eyeball out. Greenish slime was dripping off.  The goblin wiped it clean before putting it back in. Most were wearing metal plumed helmets and carried some sort of outlandish weapon such as a battleax or a bludgeon.

      Now that the coronation was over, the goblins noticed Sami and Hopper.

      One of them shouted, “There they are!” and pointed at the little girl and her bear.

     “We had better get out of here,” Sami yelled to Hopper and both of them took off through the woods.  The goblins chased after them.

     As they were running, Hopper asked Sami, “What do you think they will do to us if they catch us?”
     “Probably eat us,” Sami said.

     Right behind Sami was a little goblin that jumped on her back. Its body was blobbish with spikes down its back and its mouth was open ready to take a bite of her. Sami shook it off as quickly as she could and noticed it had uneven canine like teeth under dark red lips.   Their noses were flat and between deep set green glassy eyes.

     Sami and Hopper could not run fast enough to get away from them. The goblins were as fast as they were. When the goblins ran they did so on all fours at speeds close to twenty miles per hour but when not running their front legs were handy as hands.

     Their voices sounded like rusty hinges, “Catch up to those two!”  One after another came close and tried to grab Hopper’s tail with a fist that grew out where the mouse tale had been. When he missed he got so mad his face turned black and he had to thump himself on the back to stop choking and get to breathing again.

     Sami was fighting off one of the goblins with hands where its feet should have been.

     Just when Sami and Hopper were thinking they were done for, the Great Horned Owl re-appeared. It flapped its wings in front of Sami so Sami could not help but see him.

     “Follow me,” the owl said. “If you don’t trust me, you will be lost.”
     Sami and Hopper had no choice.  The only thing to do was to follow this owl.  Hundreds and maybe thousands of the goblins were crowding the woods trail trying to overcome them.

     Finally up ahead was a hole in the ground. The Great Horned Owl had led them to an opening in the earth.  This bird really was one of the Guardians of the forest.

     “There,” the owl said. “I cannot go further with you but you can find help within the hole. You will be offered choices but select well.  Only one choice will save you and you may leave the hole with only one. Also if you once come out of this hole, it will close and will never reopen.”

     Hopper and Sami quickly entered the hole in the ground and found it had a path within it. The hole was very dark but Sami saw a lantern at the entry and they lit it and followed an underground pathway that led to a cavern surrounded by an ancient underground river of icy cold water from the melting of the ice age glaciers overhead.

     There seemed nothing to do for Sami and Hopper but to cross the river and enter an open plain that appeared on the other side. There was a gondola nearby tied to a pier that went out into the icy river. The two jumped into the boat and rowed across the river.

     On the other side of the river was a large open space surrounded by a stone wall.
     Sami and Hopper followed the path that led to this large room.

     Above the room was an immense diamond suspended from golden chains constantly turning that gave out light as a star.

     Within the stone walls of this room there were great chests of gold and silver and diamonds and jewels. Besides these fabulous discoveries there was a large sack of tiny flax seed.

     These were all displayed in the midst of a bejeweled throne.

     On the throne was the skeleton of a long dead witch. A black cloud appeared around her from which came the howling of a tormented sounding wind.

     Sami looked at Hopper and both gaped in amazement, “She must have been the one who put the spell on the goblins that turned them into mice,” Sami said.

     Hopper replied, “Yes and now she is dead and cannot place a new spell on them to return them to the form of woods mice.”

     “What will we do?”

     Then Sami remembered what the owl had said. 

     “We must select our help,” Sami said.

     Then the two went over to look at the array of jewels and precious metals and the bag of tiny seeds.

     Sami said, “Do you remember what the owl told us. Only one will help save us from the goblins.”

     Hopper said, “It must be that we take out of here a sack of gold. Maybe the goblins will take the gold as ransom. Then again maybe they would be content with a sack of diamonds for rings or silver to make coins?”

     Then the two looked over at the sack of seeds. “Why would we take a sack of tiny flax seed out of here? What good would that do?” Sami said.

     Time was running out. “We can only pick one,” Hopper said.

     Sami said, “There must be a reason why the sack of seeds is a choice. Perhaps goblins eat them?” Sami asked. “I think offering them these seeds to eat would suit them more than to offer them riches.”

     “Okay,” Hopper said.  “We will try it.”
     Sami dragged the sack of seed to the boat and re-crossed the icy river and followed the path that led to the opening of the hole. On the way, the sack ripped open slightly and a trail of thousands of tiny flax seed soon led deep into the cavern.

     When Sami got to the opening practically all the seed was gone and goblins had started pouring in.

     When the goblins noticed the seed on the floor they began to rush toward the seeds on the trail leading back into the cave.

     Each was in a frenzy to count the seeds and they argued and fought as each attempted to assert its count was right. One contended, “It is 301,452 to here.” Another responded angrily, “No it is 45,365 to here.” There was such a fuss over the counting as the goblins entered further and further into the cave that none of them noticed Sami and Hopper slipping outside the hole.

     Soon all of the goblins were in the cave and their fussing voices could be heard ever more slightly as they descended further and further into the cave.

     As they left, the hole quickly closed forever.

     Sami and Hopper ran home as quickly as they could.

THE MAN WHO ATE LOG CABINS

 

     Not long after, about dinner time a day or two later, a man appeared at the log cabin home of Uncle Carl Poe. He was looking very hungry with his mouth watering as he observed Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin. The water formed a little puddle at his feet. As Hoosiers do when someone appears at their door, the man was invited in. Little did anyone know that this man ate log cabins.

    He had eyes that looked like fried eggs and a nose like a Bartlett pear and introduced himself as Brent Duckbill. He was wearing very fancy formal wear and around his neck was a very long red, white and blue ribbon so wide he wrapped it around his waist and used it as a belt. Several stars were pinned on it and different medals were pinned on here and there. On his head was a black fancy top hat with antlers of a deer buck poking out and a stuffed hummingbird on each side. It was obvious he was a very important man from the way he waddled so proudly. With a bow and a flourish of his right arm, he announced that he was the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary (which he then translated into the French as ambassadeur extraordinaire et plénipotentiaire) of the President of the State of Indiana to the Miami Indian Nation. He explained that his high position was called “Big Dealum Commodore” in the Miami tongue.

     He said he was in the neighborhood to talk to any Miami Indian chief he could find and negotiate their surrender but he couldn’t find any and happened upon Uncle Carl Poe’s place, which was one of the last standing log cabins he could come across. He called the Queen of England his girlfriend and started talking about how she stole his wallet so he had to be careful about people.

      He appeared very proud of himself and was very self-assured about his authority and swaggered around the log cabin checking out its construction.

     Then he sat down at the dinner table with Uncle Carl Poe, Sami and Hopper.

    After he had eaten several bites of dinner, Brent’s mouth widened and widened and his tongue began to extend and grow until it wrapped around one of the logs of the cabin. The whole incident was so unexpected that Uncle Carl Poe was simply taken aback and in shock about this impertinence.

     Then the guest began pulling out random logs from the log cabin and drawing them into his bloated mouth where he chewed them up using heavy grinders for teeth.

     “Help,” Sami cried out. “This man is eating our log cabin.”

     “Stop, stop,” Uncle Carl Poe finally said.  “Don’t provoke me to get my musket!”

     But the wall with the gun mount was being pulled at and Uncle Carl Poe couldn’t get to it.

     The man’s stomach had begun to bloat horribly.  Two little pipes emerged from his side and steam began pouring out.  Waves of heat emerged and it was apparent that somehow a furnace was lodged in his stomach and needed fuel.

    “Why are you eating our log cabin?” Sami asked him. But the man was so busy eating that he would not stop to talk.

     Uncle Carl Poe walked over to him to try to put his hands on him, but he could not because the man’s voracious self-fueling had turned him so red and hot that he could not be touched. The man just looked at Uncle Carl Poe like he was the world’s biggest dummy and thrust his tongue out to pull out another log.

     “You aren’t anybody’s ambassador are you?” Uncle Carl Poe said.  “You were lying weren’t you?”

     The guest said nothing but kept up his obstreperous behavior. It was obvious that the furnace in his stomach must have already burned up whatever rational thoughts had ever been in his head.

      “Hold off,” Sami shouted at the ambassador so loudly that the sound wave caused his stomach steam to cloud.

     Brent Duckbill stopped mid-log.

     “Oh sir,” Sami said. “This house is so small. If you eat people’s homes then I have an idea for you.  Let me take you to another one.  It is very close.  It will provide you with a much more delicious and bigger meal.  It is where I used to live so I know the way there very well.”

     “Where is that?” the guest asked.

     “It is the home of my mother and father and it has much bigger and more tasty logs.”

     The churning of wood logs in the man’s enormously expanded mouth ceased and the man agreed.

     Sami and Hopper quickly led Brent Duckbill out of their log cabin, or what was left of it. Then Sami and Hopper led him to the burned out cabin where she had lived with her mother and father not far away. 

     They walked as quickly as they could.

     When they arrived, Sami and Hopper pointed out to the man the wreckage of the place. All that was left was a pile of torn apart logs and rubble.

     Brent Duckbill was furious. “You tricked me into coming to a house that is torn apart and burned down?”
     “It was much bigger than ours,” Sami said.  “I told you the truth.”

     Brent Duckbill’s mouth began to water and grow larger. It was true.  Here was a Hoosier home that he could consume.  There were still remnants of logs and blown apart timbers of a home. He could not stop.  His appetite to take every Hoosier’s home away from them was too voracious to turn down any opportunity

     High up in the sky Twyster, the tornado wind, looked down on this scene. He had been resting up but the goings on below caught his attention.

     Here was a man trying to wipe out one of his trophies.  Twyster remembered very well how he had swirled down on this log cabin. How he had enjoyed destroying this settler home of William and Sue Ellen and he resented someone coming in to try to eat the evidence. Who did this Brent Duckbill think he was!

     As Brent Duckbill’s monstrous mouth began expanding to snatch and lick up the scattered logs of William’s and Sue Ellen’s former house and sucking in the ashes, Twyster went into action.

     With a quick whisk he swooped down and his windy fingers grasped Brent Duckbill and carried him high into the sky.  There had been a skunk nearby who was also carried up into the sky.

     As Twyster churned the two together, they became one.  By the time they were dropped back into the forest there was now only a monster skunk.

     When Sami saw that Brent Duckbill had been turned into a monster skunk, they quickly left the place and ran home.

     That night Uncle Carl Poe told Sami, “You have to know that there are terrible liars in this world, Sami, people like this Brent Duckbill.  They will lie on you at the wink of an eye and try to take your home. Trust in God and people will know the truth and God will deal with such people.”

     Uncle Carl Poe repaired the damage done to their log cabin. Sami and Hopper told him how their guest had been transformed.

     Now people began to notice that there was a huge skunk that roamed through Indiana.  Some say that this skunk was so strange and outlandish looking that it must be some kind of new creature in the Indiana forest.  It was man size, had the white stripe on its back and the foul odor of a skunk and walked on its two back legs.  No one could explain how this great skunk walked like that or came to be until they heard about the man who ate log cabins.   No one wanted to be around this creature or get close enough to ask the question.  It had a terrible stink. It was simply a monster skunk of the woods. 
     Many hunters wanted to shoot it and waste a shell to rid the woods of the sight. But it escaped these hunters by stealthy behavior and raw evil intelligence. Every time it was seen, Hoosiers enquired about it and its reputation grew and the stories about Brent Duckbill have been handed down.
     Now, to Hoosiers, anyone who lies and slanders people or tries to take away their home is known by Hoosiers as a skunk or a Brent.

GLAD TO SEE THE SUN

 

     Every day in April became sunnier and warmer. Every day the forest oven seemed turned up another degree.    

     This morning, Uncle Carl Poe woke up and said to himself, “I am better off than the earth.  The earth has only one sun and I have two.”  He was looking out the front door.     There, walking down to the crick to play this morning were two children.  First there was Sami and next behind was Hopper the bear cub.
     Every morning these days Uncle Carl Poe smiled as he got out of bed.  This was a new feeling for him.  He could enjoy the warmth because the winter had been so cold.  He would appreciate the longer days because he had come from darker ones. He was ready to experience the joy of having Sami and Hopper with him because he had felt the sadness at the loss of his brother. The crick was thawed clear again. Outside the woods was filled with energy and a constant breeze spread around the news that the Hoosier lands were filling up with more and more people.

     Sometimes Uncle Carl Poe would just walk outside his log cabin in these spring days and let the sun shine on him.

      One morning, Sami joined him out in front of the door there while he was “sunning” and asked him, “Ditty, what causes the sun to shine so brightly!”

     Uncle Carl Poe went over to a stump he used for his resting chair and pulled the little girl onto his lap.

     “Well, my grandma used to tell me when I was a boy in Chester that the sun is a flock of golden birds flying over the sky.  They are so shiny that you can’t look at them.”

     “But where do they live?” Sami wanted to know.

     “I hear tell that it is somewhere on the other side of the world and they got to fly home every night to get their sleep.”

     More and more, Uncle Carl Poe wanted his twosome wards to go outside.

     Hopper was changing in appearance every day.  What had once been a fuzzy little ball of a bear was now a toddler bear with coarse black fur for better protection from the weather.

     Uncle Carl Poe had a special reason why he wanted Hopper to go outside.

     Hopper was becoming a biter. Sami had to snatch away his hands and Uncle Carl Poe would come over and box the cub on the ears.

     “One of these days, I am going to run away from here,” Hopper said.  “Then Uncle Carl Poe will be sorry for how he keeps trying to stop me from biting.”

     That time would come.

     Pan after pan of milk disappeared as the spring days passed. The little girl and her bear were growing up.  Hopper’s silky sides began to stand out as big and round as a cushion.
     Sami and Hopper both liked to climb, and even on the rough shingled roof of the house.  The roof really wasn’t all that high and you could jump onto it from the overhang of a gum tree close by.  Splinters were a problem but you could pull them out.
     One hot summer afternoon Uncle Carl Poe went outside looking for his children.  They were nowhere to be seen so he went to sit under the shade of the cabin roof.
     Not long after, he heard a noise on the roof and then two friends, one human and one bear came tumbling down on top of him from the roof.  Uncle Carl Poe was so happy to see them that he picked them both up in his arms at once and gave them a bear hug.       

      Uncle Carl Poe’s life was so full these days! He tweaked Sami’s nose. “Sami, I love your nose.”  The little girl giggled.
     Then Uncle Carl Poe grabbed one ear and then another.  “Sami, I love those ears.”  More giggles.
     A chin was pinched by two thick woodsman hands.  “Sami, I love that chin.”  

     With laughs and hugs, Uncle Carl Poe found a wiggle worm to slip out of his hugs.

     “You know something,” Uncle Carl Poe said to her, “I just found a box turtle yesterday while you were out playing and I got it for you to play with.”  Then he looked at the little girl.  “No,” he said, “You go inside for breakfast and I’m bringing it in there for you!”

    Sami went inside and saw her Hopper still asleep and lifted her little black bear out of an old quilt.

     “Hello there, Hopper,” she said. 

     Holding up the little furry animal and tweaking his nose, she said, “Hopper, I love your nose.”  The little bear huffed and shook its head.
     Then Sami stretched out the little bear’s round ears.  The bear turned its head up to Sami like she must be crazy.  But Sami said, “I love those ears even the one with the notch in it,” and then the little bear gruffed and bawled and woofed happily.

     When Sami reached out to squeeze the little bear’s chin, the bear began licks and licks until Sami and she caught each other in a hug and rolled over and over on the cabin’s puncheon floor.

     Little interactions like this caused the two to become best friends.  Also they got to spend lots of time with each other because Uncle Carl Poe had so many other new responsibilities. He began to live a new life.  No longer was he just looking after himself.  He had three people to look after and all of them liked their victuals.

     He and Longun had to get busier than ever. Nearly every day he and Longun left the house looking for food out in the woods. Then he would leave the two kids to their own devices and go hunting.  One day he told Hopper and Sami that he thought he knew where some juicy turkeys were over, strutting and bragging about how they owned the forest so he and Longun decided to go investigate their claims.

THE FAIRY RIDERS OF THE BIG WOODS

 

     Sami and Hopper wanted to go hunting with her Uncle Carl Poe on this third Wednesday in April. She promised she wouldn’t make noise.  Uncle Carl said she could come but he would have to put the dogs up for this trip.

     Sami had never been hunting before. She really looked forward to it. Uncle Carl Poe aroused her curiosity because he told her he knew where a big tree was where turkeys roosted.

     “What is a turkey?” Sami wanted to know.

 “It is a big wild bird,” Uncle Carl Poe told her. “It stays on the ground and runs

like a crazy man through the forest on long, powerful legs. Their tails look like large

feathery fans and their faces are bright blue and their necks are bright red.”

     Sami could hardly wait to see such strange looking creatures. She could imagine

them suddenly appearing in the openings of the woods where the grasshoppers were

leaping about in the grasses and the thistle-burs. She hardly noticed the bees droning

or the crickets clattering clearly and strongly in the airy trail she took with her uncle.

     They began the walk toward their hunt. North and east of the homestead of Uncle

Carl Poe was the Big Woods.  This was an area of the Hoosier forest where no settlers

had gone.  It was a place of huge trees and the sounds of busy untamed forest

creatures.  There were no fences in this place and no traces or roads went through it. 

Not a single settler had considered entering this primitive place to cut down trees and

dig out a farm. 

     At the Big Woods, Uncle Carl Poe proceeded to the tree he knew as a turkey roost. When he got close, he took out the slate call he had made.  It sounded just like “hen music.” Then they started hearing the turkeys. Turkeys are loud and especially a Tom Turkey in breeding season establishing his harem. Up ahead they could hear a Tom turkey gobbling and the hen turkeys putting and yelping.  But these sounds seemed to come from the air. The turkeys started coming into view. They were flying like other birds do. They were as strange looking as Sami had expected and more so. They had bills that curved down like hooks and had long beards like Uncle Carl Poe had. Others of the flying turkeys were females and didn’t have so many colors and their heads had smaller feathers on them.
     Uncle Carl Poe shook his head.  What had gotten into these turkeys!  Turkeys don’t fly!

     Then Sami noticed tiny creatures riding on the backs of the turkeys.

     They were woods fairies and they threw out magic fairy dust while below woods flowers bloomed and the woods seemed to resound with the feel of wonderful joy.  They each wore boots and coats and golden caps.
     But each was a little different.  One had a buttercup in its cap and another’s coat was moonshiney and green.  Still another had tiger lily skin and misty leggings. Their coats were both street varieties and tails. Another’s long sleeves were the lace of starlight.

     Sami could see them very clearly but not everyone would notice the little creatures perched on the backs of the turkeys.  They were mere golden bursts of light. But upon the closest look, they were human shaped and would pass for the tiniest of people except for their forest green color and purple iris’s in their soft eyes.    

     Sami called out to Uncle Carl Poe, “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”

    “Why?” Uncle Carl Poe said.

    “These turkeys have fairies on them,” Sami said as one whizzed by and scattered fairy dust on her and Hopper. “These turkeys are their steeds.”

     With surprise, Sami sensed the fairy dust settle on her and she felt herself rising into the air and losing size so now she had become a tiny size as the fairies.  Beside her Hopper was being lifted into the air and windmilling his arms to pick up speed to catch the lead turkey.  As he was reduced in size, he grabbed a turkey wing and swung up on its back.  Sami found her a riderless turkey too.

     Uncle Carl Poe was down below shaking his head and calling, “Sami!!!” “Hopper!!!!” “Come back here!!!”

     “We will be back soon, Uncle,” Sami called out.

      She was learning to ride and drive her turkey.  It was bridled with a bit attached to reins that Sami was holding onto as it sailed through the woods.

      After burgeoning the blossoms on the spring flowery shrubs and wildflowers the woods fairies headed for a particular sycamore tree along Brandywine Crick and of course Sami and Hopper were swept along with the rest.

     At the sycamore, the fairies dismounted and dismissed their steeds and the turkeys once again began sneaking through the woods followed by the large gobblers.  Every so often one of the toms would fan his tail and show off for the females.  The biggest tom never gobbled but when he came around the others stopped their talking and flew up into trees or wandered off. All returned to normal in the turkey world until the woods fairies would require their services again.

     To reach the sycamore tree, the fairies had to navigate through May apples standing taller than they were. The underbrush was already a deep green. High above, the sycamore’s pale leaves were just unfolding.

     How could anyone have guessed that there was an invisible door on the trunk of this sycamore? In size it was smaller than the eye of a needle but to the fairies it was larger than the bronze doors of the Parthenon.

     Sami and Hopper followed the fairies into their magical country and the door closed behind them.

     One asked another, “Where shall we take Sami and her friend?

     “To the palace,” another said.  “I smell the royal blood of England in her veins. She must be presented to our queen.”

     At the gates of the palace, guards were stationed.  They wore two inch tall black bearskin caps with plumes centered, scarlet tunics with blue collars and wing guards behind, dark blue trousers with a red stripe down the seam and a white leather belt holding a fairy dust pouch.

     When it was explained that Sami was of royal blood they immediately opened the gates and allowed her and Hopper to enter. The other fairies followed behind.

     In the audience hall the queen of the fairies welcomed her guests and the fairies.

     The fairies reported that they had completed their task and that blossoms were flowering throughout the woods.

     The queen nodded with approbation but nevertheless began shaking her head.

     “I have a report that the sprites of the forest trees are inconsolable,” she said. “Their brothers and sisters are being cut down by settlers to make farms.”

     “Do you mean we will no longer have a woods to color with beautiful blossoms and flowers?”

      “I’m afraid so,” she said.

     Then Sami spoke up.

     “Do not fear being useless. There are always flowers in flower gardens and you can help crops to grow and work in the vegetable plots of the settlers.”

     “What a great idea!” one and then another of the fairies said.

     The queen added, “Will you stay and become our queen when I step down?”

     “No,” Sami said. “It is time for Hopper and I to go back to our Uncle Carl Poe’ log cabin.”

     “Oh no,” the Queen said.  “Did you not know that once a child enters a fairy land, that child cannot ever leave?”

     Sami and Hopper looked at each other with bewilderment. They could hardly believe their ears. They queen was saying they would be forever doomed to live in the palace of the fairy queen.

     “Show them to their rooms,” the fairy queen ordered and guards came to perform escort duties.

     The guards showed Sami and Hopper to rooms in the palace.  They were sumptuous rooms with the softest beds and pillows of thistle down.

     But Sami and Hopper were inconsolable.  They did not want to live forever in the fairy palace.

      Just then, a herald announced that the turkeys had led a hunter to the entry of the fairyland and he had an ax and was threatening to cut down the sycamore if his niece was not returned.

     “Who is this intruder?” the fairy queen asked.

     “It is a giant who calls himself Carl Poe!”

      An advisor went over to the queen and whispered in her ear, “I think this person must be the uncle of our new royal guests.”

     “How could he have discovered where we live? The Queen asked.

     One of our fairies fell off her turkey, the herald said and she told him so that he could bring her home.  Then he seized her pixie dust and powdered himself to get him and his ax our size.”

     “Well, we must let him in,” the Queen said.

     Soon Uncle Carl Poe strode before the throne of the queen and demanded to know where his children were.”

     The queen told him they were safe.

     “Now, get them,” Uncle Carl Poe said wielding his ax as if he were ready to start using it on the palace.

     The queen was in a tizzy.  All of this was so unheard of.  Woods fairies hate conflict.

     “Okay, we will go get Sami and Hopper,” she said, “but you must know that there is only one way that this girl and her friend can return to your human world.  That is if we all take out our hearts and wish for her to be returned to the forest all at the same time. We fairies have not used this for a thousand years and I have only heard tell that it may work.”

     “Will you try?” Uncle Carl Poe asked.

     By this time, Sami and Hopper had returned to the throne room.  They immediately ran over to the fairy sized Uncle Carl Poe and turned to the queen and said, “We want to return to the world of people.”

     The queen smiled and agreed. She nodded to her subjects and they all drew close to her.

     The fairies reached into their bodies and drew out their shining hearts and wished all at the same time that Sami, Hopper and Uncle Carl Poe might return to the Big Woods.

The queen repeated an ageless spell that only she knew and spoke out “Combine our powers and wish.”

     Immediately Sami and Hopper were back in the forest and in the arms of the worried Uncle Carl Poe who immediately returned them to the log cabin and put them to bed.    

      There is no need to worry about the fairies.  After the wish they each returned their glowing hearts to their tiny bodies. Fairies can do such things.

      They also caused Uncle Carl Poe and Sami and Hopper to forget they were ever in fairyland.

 

TURTLE SOUP

 

     Uncle Carl Poe really thought he had caught a prize one day.  He had found this turtle. It was as big as a boulder with a shell on top and a head that darted out looking around.

     The turtle had popped out of the Brandywine and Uncle Poe saw her while he was on his way to his favorite fishing spot.

     The turtle was heavy but then so was Uncle Carl Poe.  Uncle Carl Poe knew that turtles have nine kinds of great meat in them so he picked up the thing, heavy as it was, and set her down behind the cabin and drove enough stakes around the turtle that no escape was possible.  Later on, this turtle was going to be yummy in a pot of soup. Then Uncle Carl Poe left to do other things.

     When Hopper and Sami went out around in back that morning, sure enough they saw the turtle all staked in.

     Hopper or Sami had never seen a snapping turtle before.  When they got closer
they saw a big shell with a head sticking out one end and a little tail out the other.  It was big, about two feet wide with legs that were webbed back all the way back under her shell.
     The turtle whose name was Lady was so very unhappy and pled with them to save its
life.  Lady had actually led a charmed life up until this point. She was actually pretty fun. 
She always had a smile on her beautiful warty face. She also had the most cheerful look
in her little black beady eyes.  No one had ever messed with her before.  She was at the
top of the food chain around the Brandywine until these settlers showed up.  Her snapper
was where the beaks of her upper and lower jaw joined midline.  Getting pinned there
was a bad bite experience. 

      “What are you doing here?” Hopper asked.

     “Well, I came up on the bank of the crick. I am full of eggs. Won’t you help me get back in the crick?” Lady asked.

     There was something so desperate about her voice.

     There was only one thing to be done.  The two had to let the turtle loose…which they

did.

      Sami and Hopper pulled and tugged at the stakes holding Lady hostage until they got

them out and Lady was able to move.

     There she went with one plodding foot in front of the other with her head raised up to
the level of her shell. 

     Before going too far, Lady found a nice gravelly kind of spot and scratched around
before depositing a slew of eggs into the shallow hole and covering it up a little.

     Then the two liberators watched Lady plod back to the crick.  She disappeared into the
water with puddles circling out and she reappeared only with her beak out of the water to
say goodbye and “Thanks again.”

     Uncle Carl Poe had captured Lady Snapper in a trap just after she laid her eggs up on
the bank of the crick.  Now the little spotted eggs were graveled over.  Thanks to Sami
and Hopper those little eggs would hatch.

     When Uncle Carl Poe came back around and saw the snapping turtle was gone he followed her tracks back towards the crick and saw where she had mounded up her eggs before returning to the crick.

     “I’m sure glad the woods fairies pulled up the stakes to release that turtle,” Uncle Carl Poe said. “I didn’t know she was a mother.”    

THE SEARCH FOR A FRIEND

                

     The one thing about this April was its raininess. Unexpectedly there would come a downpour out of the skies that would try to drown the forest and fill up Brandywine crick. Downed trees and branches and loose soils raged into the waters. On this morning as April was turning into May, the clouds in the sky were darkening and warning that another storm might blow in or pass by.  The weather in Indiana is always so quick to change. Sometimes a morning storm will lead to a warm and cloudless interlude and that is what happened this day. When there wasn’t any rain for awhile, Uncle Carl Poe decided to go hunting and that left Sami and Hopper alone for a spell.

     Right in the middle of playing hoops outside of the cabin, Sami remembered Little Squirrel.  He was her invisible playmate before Twyster changed her life. Little Squirrel always smiled so happily when he would come out of the Brandywine Crick to play with Sami.

     What had happened to Little Squirrel?

     She and Hopper decided to take the trace back to the burned out log cabin where she had lived before coming to Uncle Carl Poe.

      Upon arrival at the crick, Sami went down to the crick and called for him. “Little Squirrel? Little Squirrel? Are you still there? Will you come out and play ‘snowball fight’ with me like you used to?”

     It didn’t matter that there was no snow on the ground as when she had last played with him.  They could pretend. She loved to make believe with Little Squirrel. They knew each other’s minds. He was, after all, just her age but living a spirit life. He had dark hair and dark eyes with long black eyelashes and almond colored skin.

     As if to answer Sami’s call, Little Squirrel came out of the crick.
     The two hugged as people do who haven’t seen each other in awhile.  This was also the first time Little Squirrel had seen Hopper since Hopper was a tiny cub in his birth cave in the bitter cold of January. His soft brown fuzzy coat was turning darker and coarser.

     After their renewed greetings, the three began playing hide and seek which drew them out into the woods.

     Their game took them into strange country.  Sami did not recognize where they were. “I think we are lost,” she said to Hopper.  She signaled the same to Little Squirrel.

     Hopper said, "I am not lost when I am with you.”

     Sami nodded in agreement.  She felt the same way about being with her bear.

     While racing on through the forest, the three stopped at a slight clearing where beams of light broke through the high branches of the oaks, ashes and beech trees. The place was a gathering spot for leaves against a fallen lightning struck oak tree. It was near a small village of the Miami on a crick parallel to the Brandywine known as Wapinepay.

     Sami went to sit on the fallen trunk to gather her breath.

     Little Squirrel looked at the natural features in this clearing and remembered being there before. The recollection caused him to shiver and shake. It was as if he had sudden fear of a great horror that had once occurred nearby.  He went to sit by Sami sadly. Sami could not help but notice how frightened her spirit friend had become in this clearing and she looked into his eyes in a comforting way and reached out to hold his hand.

     In the meantime, there was another sound.

     An Indian woman named Winona wandered into the same clearing. She was calling for her missing son saying, “A-son-da-ki Ca-ip-awa” (“Shine my morning sun.”).“A-son-da-ki Ca-ip-awa, A-son-da-ki Ca-ip-awa.”    The woman was in her late teens and her face was downcast and her darting looks here and there were furtive and anxious.

     Little Squirrel looked at her intently and then recognition dawned. This woman was his mother and she was searching for him.

     Little Squirrel squeezed Sami’s hand.

      “That is my mother,” Little Squirrel said to Sami. “My mother never knew what happened to me.” He spoke this in the Miami tongue. Sami guessed its content. 

     Little Squirrel jumped up and ran to his mother and tried to wrap his arms around her but it was no use. Little Squirrel’s spirit body was invisible to everyone but Sami whose child spirit was so innocent as to perceive a like innocence presence.

     Little Squirrel returned to glumly sit by Sami. It appeared that there was nothing he could do to cause his mother to know he was there.

     The Indian woman saw Sami seated on the log with Hopper close by her side.  She could not see Little Squirrel.

     Winona went over to Sami and looked at her sadly.  She could speak broken English and conveyed that she was searching for her son who had disappeared from the village to play in the woods in the howling time of the past winter. “I have looked for him every day since he disappeared,” she said. “I don’t know where my first born is,” the woman said very distraught.

     It was then that Sami learned how strong is a mother’s love for her child and how unbreakable is the bond of a mother with her child. It is so strong that a mother can have no rest when a child is missing. This woman had devoted a part of each waking day for many months to a search for her lost child.

     Little Squirrel nudged at Sami. “Tell her I am okay,” Little Squirrel said to Sami.  “Can you tell her that?”

     Sami looked at her friend by her side but shook her head. Sami could see her invisible friend but she could not communicate in his Miami tongue.

     Then Little Squirrel had an idea.  He remembered something that might help. He remembered where he had left his bow. He jumped off the log. He took Sami’s hand and tugged on her to stand up.  Then he led her to the base of the fallen tree. There he kicked at leaves and a helping wind blew away other leaves.

     What was revealed was a boy’s bow without its arrows.  Little Squirrel remembered he had once played with a bow and arrow at this place.

     Winona was watching this intently.

     Seeing the bow, Winona recognized it immediately as the one belonging to her son. She went over to pick it up and she held it close to her breast.

     Winona continued to look around at this spot and kicked away at other leaves concealing the forest floor. Turning over a log next to where the bow was she saw the deep three lobed heal prints from a cougar. The deep imprint had been preserved in the mud under the fallen tree. Then she discovered partial skeletal remains of a boy.  The mother picked up a skull and saw the deep puncture wounds on the back of the head where the animal had delivered a fatal bite. His hair was close by.

     It was easy for her to imagine what had happened.  She knew the signs of a cougar kill. They were all there. Cougars pluck out the hair where they feed. The body of Little Squirrel was left in pieces except the telltale ears of her child.  A cougar eats its prey beginning in the stomach area directly behind the ribs but do not chew the ears off its prey. They then cover up the uneaten portion of their prey with leaves, sticks, dirt, snow or other debris.

     Excitedly Winona picked up the skull of her son and cried out in a horrible shriek of pain.  At long last she was now satisfied she knew what had happened to her son.

     The call attracted the attention of the strong five foot long cougar who lived nearby. This clearing was in his hunting zone. He came closer on cushioned padded paws armed with eighteen razor-sharp claws and looked about.  He panted revealing huge teeth on powerful jaws.  The cougar was nearly invisible in the woods. He had a tan coat that ended in a three foot tail whose tip was black. The underbody was white and he weighed close to one hundred fifty pounds. He poised himself on the lower branches of a nearby tree to observe the scene in front and below him.

     Holding the skull, Winona lifted it into the air and pleaded, “O Great Spirit whose voice I hear in the winds and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me in my grief. Let me learn how to live knowing of my son’s fate. I am small and weak. I need your strength and wisdom. Teach me to live with the memory of Little Squirrel and see the world as he did. Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.   Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.  Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.  Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.  I seek strength not to be greater than my sister or brother but to fight my greatest enemy – my grief and loneliness for my child.  Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes so when life fades, as it has faded for my son, my spirit may come to you without shame.”

      Suddenly the eyes of the cougar became the eyes of healing rather than predation. The prayer had pleased the Great Spirit who moves through the animal kingdom as well the human one. The Great Spirit of the Miami settled into the form of the murderous cougar.

     The cougar jumped down from his tree shining and golden in the sun speaking in a language that the forest knows. His tongue appeared as something on fire and said, “It is well.” Then the spirited cougar turned to look directly at the log where Little Squirrel sat with Sami and Hopper.

     The spirit boy arose from where he was seated. As Sami watched, Little Squirrel began to move into his mother’s reach and his own head moved into the skull held by his mother.  Then the rest of his body joined his spirit. He was once again in full flesh. Little Squirrel was now the living boy that he had been in his days of life in the rich forest land of the Miami. He turned to look at his mother and warmly greeted her before ending the months of separation with the warmest of embraces. The moments flew by and the two clung to each other desperately before Little Squirrel remembered his friends Sami and Hopper.

     He nodded to Sami before rushing over to give her the biggest hug he could muster before returning to his mother.

     Winona could hardly believe she was now witnessing her long lost son’s body in the flesh as well as in the spirit.

     “I am fine,” Little Squirrel told his mother. “You do not need to search for me anymore.”

     Then there was suddenly a great white light descending from heaven. It was embedded in shining orbs of encircling light. It was directed at Little Squirrel who looked up to welcome its arrival. Reaching Little Squirrel, the light clasped his renewed body. As the white light lifted up Little Squirrel in its shine, he waved a farewell to his mother and his friends. The white light then took the child into the sky. From heaven came a joyous noise of reception just like that of a stiff rushing warming breeze, and it filled the whole forest. Tongues as if of fire from the breath of the spirit cougar seemed to fill the forest scene and one sat upon Winona and spoke to her saying, “It was time for Little Squirrel to ascend.  He has fulfilled his purpose to tell you that you and he shall one day meet again.”

       Winona then went over to Sami and took the five year old into her arms. “Now I can be at peace,” she said, kissed Sami and Hopper goodbye and disappeared back through the forest toward her village.

     They too must get home Hopper told her. “Uncle Carl Poe will be wondering what happened to us.”

     “But how do we get home?” Sami said. “We are lost in the woods!”
     Just then the spirited cougar strode over to her and extended its tail as if to say, “Hold on.”

     Sami reached over and held the cougar’s tail near its black tip.

     The spirit cougar led them all the way back to Brandywine Crick and made sure they were safe from predators.

THE BEAVER’S SECRET

 

     Along the crick May was crispy and balmy with warm days and fresh sunny skies highlighting everything. It was a time when the green deepens and the energetic winds were like sighing breaths. Every day was becoming more bright. One by one the sunbirds emerged from their eggs.  One by one each would take flight up into the sky and the weather would turn just a little bit warmer.  The cold of winter was disappearing every time a sunbird was airborne. Spring was heading into summer. The gilders were born with the golden glimmer in their feathers and the gift of speech in their beaks. Most were born together in the early spring when the temperature made its biggest jumps and the winter cold was turned around into the warmth of spring.

     “Where in the world are we?” one asked another.

     “Our mothers must be around here somewhere,” another one said in great confusion and looking about the Hoosier woods.

     But there were no mothers and no fathers and certainly no grandfathers or grandmothers or guardians of any kind.  The birds were on their own best behavior.

     Each had two little stick legs. Right after birth was the point when the sun birds were most vulnerable. The brilliant gleams of their light only glowed ever so dully. Then, figuring it out, they would mount the waves of the wind and enter the blue of the sky to join their flock.

     Sami and Hopper were busy exploring this emerging world of May together.

     One of the big problems Hopper had was getting used to Uncle Carl Poe’s cows.  There was the milk cow named Sparkles and there was her calf Murderous. The older cow roamed the nearby forest foraging for meals but the newborn calf was supposed to stay in a small corral that Uncle Carl Poe built to contain her. Murderous had regained all her strength after being picked up by a tornado and let down atop a tall maple tree from which Sami and Hopper caught her fall.

     Not everybody likes living at a household with a bear in it, especially Sparkles, the old milk cow.  The problem was not so much with the cow as with her calf.  The old mama didn’t like Hopper too close to her newborn calf.

     Hopper the bear couldn’t see why he couldn’t play with the calf when he went outside. 

     The old girl just wouldn’t allow it.

     Every time Hopper would try to cozy up to the six month old calf, mama would charge at him and try to horn him if she were around.

     Actually, the calf was at fault. She felt so awkward. She was up to three hundred pounds of gawkiness. She didn’t like to be snuck up on or watched by a bear cub.  Hopper sometimes appeared so suddenly.  The little bear’s soft foot pads made virtually no noise and his silky coat didn’t disturb the bushes and shrubs he walked through.

     The last time Hopper tried to sneak up on her, the young calf retaliated. She chased Hopper into the Brandywine Crick and when the little bear tried to get out Murderous pinned him underwater until he almost drowned. Murderous let him up with a snarl just as he was trying to yell out “Uncle, Uncle” underwater.
     "I didn't think you would attack me,” Hopper said to the calf.

     “You have a whole lot to learn about me,” the calf said.

     Hopper the bear became fascinated by the calf named Murderous.  It started on the day Hopper noticed she had gotten out of her corral and snuck into the woods where he saw her prancing around with a beaver in her mouth.  She was waving it around in the air despite the beaver’s protests.  The minute she knew someone was watching, she started in on an innocent act.  “You didn’t see anything,” she said to Hopper after galloping over to him and putting her little red eyes into his.

     The young beaver had its spatula flat tail between its legs.  Its thin little arms were joined together in prayer to the great God of the beavers while its beady little eyes almost
popped out of its brown sack of a body.  Its hind flapper legs were beating at the air.
     "Help get this monster off of me?"  the beaver shouted to Hopper. "This isn't my idea of fun.  I don't just hang with a monster calf!"

     Murderous snarled.

     “If you get me out of this vicious calf’s Murderous’s jaws, I will tell you a secret that will save the summer,” the beaver said.

     “What?” Hopper said.

     “Yes, you heard me,” the irritated two year old beaver said.

     Murderous snarled again and shook the little beaver’s body from side to side.

     “You owe me, Murderous,” Hopper told her.  “Remember I caught you when you jumped from that maple tree?”
     Murderous looked at Hopper quizzically and then acknowledged the favor. “Oh, all right. Here, you can have this ragdoll. I was through playing with him anyway.”

      Once the beaver was released he shook himself to get rid of his worries with the monstrous calf and looked over to the little bear.

     “What is this secret,” Hopper asked the beaver.

     “Here it is,” the beaver said sitting back on his webbed hind feet and propping himself up by his flat tail.

      “I know why summer won’t come this year,” he repeated.

      Then he explained. “Ever since winter, more of the sunbirds have been hatching and flying up to the sky to join the sun flock. When the new ones join up, the sun has more birds in it and the sun gets hotter and hotter through the spring and until summer comes. There is only one more sunbird to hatch and this one will be all that’s needed for summer to come.”

    “Yes, yes,” Hopper said.  Everyone knows this.”

      “But hear me out, Hopper,” the beaver said. “That last hatchling will never reach the sky. His egg was picked up by the beavers on a little branch of the Chookhittuck.  They took it inside their lodge on the beaver pond they built there. Have you seen their dam there?”

     “No,” Hopper said. “Sami and I have not gotten over that way.”

     “Well, when that last egg hatches, the last sunbird won’t see the sky and won’t know there is a sky up overhead to fly up to.  That little sunbird won’t join the rest of the sunbirds to add their gleam to heat up the earth for summer to come.”

     “So what!” Hopper said.

     “Summer won’t come, stupid!”

     “Huh?”

     “If the last sunbird doesn’t add its light and heat to the light and heat of the others there won’t be enough light to lengthen the days or heat for summer!”

     “What do the beavers at Chookhittuck want the sunbird for?” Hopper asked.

     “They want to use him for indoor lighting of their lodge. I’m only telling you this because you saved me from that calf.” Then the beaver told Hopper the exact location of the beaver lodge where the sunbird would be inside a lodge.

     Hopper carefully paid attention to all the directions and all the advice and all the chatter chatter.

     “Now can I go?” the beaver asked.

     “Yes,” Hopper told the beaver.  The beaver waddled away to find another wetland to build a new lodge on.  He had a long way to go. It was spring and beavers, when they get to be two or so, must leave their birth lodge and perilously travel overland miles and miles to establish their own dam and lodge home.

     Hopper could hardly wait to take the news to Sami.

     “We must save summer!” Hopper told her.

      Hopper explained, “An old father beaver noticed how brightly one of the sunbirds was as it was ascending after it hatched and dreamed a dream. He noticed where the nest was from and discovered there was one last egg in it.  He picked it up and took it inside his family’s lodge.”
     “So?” Sami said.
     “Well, if the sun birds could light up the sky, they could also light up the inside of his lodge and his two generation family with all the pups inside could see better what they were doing.”
     Sami and Hopper started off to see if they could find where the last golden bird egg was being held hostage.  Finally, they found the little offshoot crick called the Chookhittuck and went up its way until they came to a strange sight. It lay up ahead. The beavers had constructed a dam across this point in the tiny stream. In a beautiful beaver pond was the most marvelous habitation in the forest. 
     It was a beaver den. This home had every modern convenience to include running water which the settler’s log cabins did not have.  The whole structure was a domelike mound nearly ten feet off the floor of their pond and forty feet wide at the base.  This was all made using mud sticks and rocks, just like their impressive dam. It only lacked one thing: indoor lighting.
     In the meantime the world was awaiting summer and the last bit of sunshine to bring it about.
     “How are we supposed to get out there to the beaver house and save that golden bird egg?”
Sami said to Hopper.
     “I don’t know,” Hopper said sadly. “We can’t just go out there – even if we could swim across the pond – and destroy somebody’s home.  That wouldn’t be right. I guess there just won’t be any summer this year.”
     The two walked dejectedly back to their log cabin. They didn’t tell Uncle Carl Poe the bad news – that there was going to be no summer this year – because they knew he had so many other things to worry about. 
     On their return to Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin, Murderous the calf jumped out at them from behind a bush on the path.
     “Get out of the way, Murderous,” Sami said to the calf. Before Hopper could intervene, the smart alecky calf pranced off.  She rushed off to hide in the bulrushes of the crick.
     Being around that calf was dangerous.
     Hopper made it his business to keep an eye on her once she returned to her corral.    
     Shortly after that Hopper saw the calf sneak out of its corral and when he
followed her he found her half up a sycamore tree on her way toward a cougar.
     “Watch out!” Hopper yelled at the little calf.  “Get away from that cougar! She will have you for a meal!”
     Murderous turned around to look at Hopper like he was crazy. “Mind your own business,” she called down to the bear cub. “I’m going to see my real mother.”
     Hopper ran about the woods near the cabin until he found Sparkles. “Your little innocent calf is climbing a tree and after a cougar!”
     Murderous immediately followed Hopper over to the tree and Crystal started bawling for her calf to get down to safety.
     Murderous finally jumped down from the tree while the cougar leaped away.

     Hopper took off too.  He didn’t want caught between her horns.  Those horns were rippers of flesh.    

     But as he was running off, he called back,

     “Sparkles, did you know that calf of yours says a cougar is her real mother. She was calling that cougar up there ‘mama.’  She is playing you for a sucker, Sparkles.  Her soul is a cougar. Didn’t you see her the other day with that beaver in her mouth?” He said all this hightailing it back towards the safety of Uncle Carl Poe’s cabin.

     “My little one with a mouthful of beaver?” the cow bawled back.  “Don’t try to make excuses.  You were just trying to sink your claws into my little innocent baby.”

     “Hold on there, mama,” Hopper shouted back. “Innocent baby my paw! That innocent little calf of yours is the terror of the woods and everyone knows it. Every time she breaks out of her corral she gets into trouble.”

     “What are you talking about?”

     “Yesterday she ran down a family of quail and busted up a wolf pack meeting.”

     “My little Murderous!”
     “She growls too!”

     “Oh, you!”

     Fortunately Hopper was close by the door of Uncle Carl Poe’s cabin by this time.  This saved Hopper from getting horned.

     Mama cow slowed down her rush and called her little Murderous to her side.

     Murderous came running and nosed up to her mama’s milk bags. 

     “Don’t you believe what that Hopper is saying about me mama,” she said.

     Then she turned and winked at Hopper.

PATTY AND THE HARPIES

 

 

     Patty Sullivan was hatched from a scratched out ground nest outside a building housing the courtroom of the frontier Indiana Supreme Court. The vultures liked to gather here because the Court’s justice provided them meals. Patty’s was the only speckled whitish egg in the nest. Patty had no idea she was born a turkey vulture and she wandered into the court building just as one of the justices died. The old boy, being carrion, attracted her attention and she slipped into his robe for the meal and stayed there deciding Hoosier cases for the rest of the term – as is this Court’s precedent -  and until the old boy was gone and she got hungry enough to move on.  The other justices took her nods for assents and didn’t notice how her red face differed from the red face of her host. The other vultures winked and nodded at the ruse because they liked the idea of having one of their own on the Court.
     After her term on the Indiana Supreme Court, Patty realized that she could fly and began circling the Hoosier sky. 
     It was during a warm lazy summer day that she noticed Sami playing with Hopper down below at the Brandywine Crick. As Patty watched she noticed Sami’s dusty trousers pulled up half to knee with her ankles grimy and nettle scratches above. The little bear was plunging into the crick – gasping and shaking – and jumped out to comfort Sami from stubbing her big toe nail and knocking it back so that Sami called out for Hopper to get there quick and rub it.

     All this made Patty so very lonely, circling around up there in the sky.  Sami and Hopper were so busy. There went Sami with her bucket.  What was in it? There is a fishing line and hook tangled up with morning glory vines.  Red lady bugs with white spots are crawling up the sides and over dead worms and slugs and there is a tree knot in the shape of a heart and a tiny sparrow nest with four cracked sky blue eggs, a slingshot Uncle Carl Poe made her, a nail she has shined, seed “pills” and a quarter of bloodroot lipstick.
     Patty decided she wanted to be Sami’s friend. She was tired of circling in the sky all day. She was tired of simply being pathetic, greedy, and treacherous.

     Patti flew down and landed by Sami. She took her open winged stance and then hopped over to Sami in her ungainly way.  Sami immediately liked her and thought her one of the most remarkable creatures she had ever seen. Patty had a beautiful bloody red bald head with a huge hooked beak and a collar so wrinkly it looked like her brain had popped out and slipped down to where her neck should be. She had piercing eyes. The rest of her was more birdlike.  She had broad strong wings and a sleek body just waiting to go airborne, catch a wind and circle it.
     “Can I be your friend?” Patty asked Sami. Patty could only speak in hisses and grunts kind of talk. Sami was on the banks of the crick looking away but she turned quickly at the unusually crackly voice.

     Sami immediately liked the idea.
     Then Hopper came over and looked at Patty.

     “Whoaaaa there Sami,” he said. “We can’t play with a vulture.”
     “Why not?” Sami said.

     When they get mad at you they cough up green stuff that smells really bad,” Hopper said.

     “Well then we won’t make our friend Patty mad,” Sami said.

     Patty spread her six feet of wings which pushed Hopper away and then said to Sami, “I don’t like that Hopper!” Patty said this under her breath.  Then she withdrew her wings.

      Then Patty saw herself as a reflection in the warm surface.

     “Wow!” Patty said out loud so quickly. “I am the most gorgeous creature on earth!”  She began looking at herself in various angles as reflections amid tender feelings of joy and satisfaction.
     In the meantime, Sami was busy leaning over a deep spot on a huge sycamore branch preparing to bomb a school of suckers.

     Hopper prepared to join her on the limb and began to climb out over the crick.

     Patty saw her chance.  With a great grunt, she lifted herself off the ground and flew to land next to Sami before Hopper could get to her.  She was just a tad too late to arrive at her destination gracefully and as she landed she was forced to give a big whomp of her wing to Hopper which caused him to ddddddfall with a great splash into the crick.

     Hopper looked up at Patty and waved his furry paw.  “You did that on purpose,” Hopper called up at Patty.  The little bear was furious looking with his lips drawn tightly together and his eyes shining.

     “Why don’t you just go away,” Patty said.  Then Sami and I can play together.”
     “Sami doesn’t want to just play with you!” Hopper replied petulantly.

     Hopper pulled himself up out of the crick with the intention of climbing that tree and pushing Patty off the limb but before he could get there, Sami said, “It’s time for us to go home.  Uncle Carl Poe is probably back by now.”
     Back at the cabin, Uncle Carl Poe was just getting through stripping the venison and hanging it to dry out on a rack.     

     “Who is your friend, Sami?” Uncle Carl Poe asked Sami when he saw Patty hopping along behind her.

     “It is my new friend Patty,” Sami said.  “She wants to be my best friend.”
     “Oh, is that so,” Uncle Carl Poe said.

     Sami and Hopper went inside the log cabin with Uncle Carl Poe.

     When they returned outside, Uncle Carl Poe looked about quickly and said, “What happened to my venison?”
     Then Uncle Carl Poe looked at Patty.”
     Patty was looking around with a very innocent look on her face.

     “Patty,” Sami asked her very seriously, “did you eat Uncle Carl Poe’s venison without asking?”
     Patty was so full she was rooted to the spot and gulping for air after her huge repast.
     Patty said, “Give me a minute here and when I am not so leaded down I will trail off.”
     “Okay,” Sami said.  “Don’t be mad Uncle,” Sami said.  “She was just hungry.”
     Patty went over to Sami and the two hugged, wings to arms. “I guess this means we can’t be friends?”
     “No, no,” Sami said. “We are friends forever, Patty.”
     Patty flew up into the sky and circled and circled.
     But then as she was circling she noticed a strange sight to the east and heading towards the log cabin of Uncle Carl Poe.

     Patty wondered what they were doing so she flew over to investigate.
     The strange flying creatures had landed on the highest branches of a tree and Patty quietly glided overhead to where she could see them and hear them.

     Patty could now see them very clearly.  They were winged monsters with the faces of ugly old women and equipped with crooked, sharp talons.

     Then she heard them making their plans.  They were on their way to carry off Sami and Uncle Carl Poe and Hopper and take them to the underworld to inflict punishment and torment on them forever.

     Patty thought of her friend Sami and knew what she must do.  Sweeping out of her great circle she dove down on the winged monsters and struck at the Harpy faces with her sharp beak.

     The monster birds fought back and rose up in the air.  They were three to one against Patty.

     Patty had little time to respond.
     With a flap of her wings she had an idea.  She would lead the harpies to the grove of the ogres several miles away.

     As the Harpies continued to snarl and curse and attempt to catch Patty in their sharp talons, Patty led them off and toward the ogres.

     At the land of the ogres, a watchman noticed them coming and called upon the ogres to defend their lands and set up their defensive nets.  As the Harpies flew by, the ogres flung their nets into the sky.

     One by one the winged Harpies were brought down and constrained with bonds to be

taken to the ogre community hall.

     None of them made it that far however.  On the way, one by one, an ogre fell in love with each of the Harpies and the two lovies stole away. 

     None of the ogres could stand in the way of true love and so – after each of the three Harpies had found a mate - peace was once again restored to the Hoosier lands. The offspring of the Harpies and the ogres are alive and well to this day and call themselves residents of New Palestine.
     All of this adventure had taken so long that now it had become the velvet of night outside.
     Patty nevertheless circled over the log cabin after her grueling encounter with the Harpies. Sami and Hopper and Uncle Carl Poe were already asleep for the night. She thought, “Friends don’t have to tell each other everything I guess.”

 

SAMI’S QUANTUM BIRTHDAY

     Everybody deserves to have a birthday celebration.  Sami was no exception. Her birthday was the 18th of May of the year 1819. This was Sami’s fifth birthday but no one knew it.

     Uncle Carl Poe could not remember when Sami was born except in a very general time frame.  That is why Sami, unlike most every other child, never knew her birthday.

     But her deceased parents killed by the tornado monster Twyster did and it was this beautiful day of May 18th.

     How could anyone know that up in heaven, Sami’s parents were making great plans?

     What could be done to make sure their little girl would have a happy day?   

     Her dead father, William, was the first to suggest a quantum birthday.  “Our little girl doesn’t know when she was born!” he told Sue Ellen after looking down and rooting around in his little girl’s mind.

     “This year we must visit her!” Sami’s mother said. Even in heaven, there is an existence and simply a parallel land.  The people there however live in a more perfect form. Sue Ellen, Sami’s dead mother, was now an even more strikingly beautiful woman than before. Although she was now a spirit, she still appeared as in life, lovely and with a sweet disposition. Nothing could blot out the impression of her beautiful wide eyes deeply set under dark eyebrows, with curly lashes. She was as stunning and alive than when living.

     It came the day for Sami’s birthday and the hour for her parents to visit their beloved daughter from their new home with God. There was little that needed to be changed except Sami’s awareness and her perceptions. Little girls do not always understand that they are children of the millennia and that they are composed of elements and matter that has no particular location on earth but only relationships to each other at some time of perception. She did not realize that her brain provided her only with holograms of reality to live in because the quantum elements of which she was composed could never be fixed. She would never have realized that particles of her were scattered throughout the universe and that she existed in multiple places.

     William and Sue Ellen centered themselves on Sami’s world and peeked in the window of her log cabin and there was Sami, all comfy and snoozing.  Sue Ellen went in and got her and picked her up in her loving arms. “Happy birthday, darling,” she said. William stood beside her. Once again the family was together in the Hoosier woods.

     Sami awoke and immediately recognized her mother and father. She was not scared. Seeing them excited her and she felt so special as if she were an explosion ready to happen.

     “We have a birthday present for you.  We are going to take you on a trip,” Sue Ellen told Sami. “They brought their little five year old close and dressed her in dazzle armor. Then William and his wife pointed their fingers toward the sky. 

     Sami looked up.  The world overhead was filled with the early morning sky and fleecy soft clouds that looked inviting and welcoming.

     As Sami was lifted up, Hopper jumped up into the air to snatch her back. But he could not arise. Sami was flying off into the air. She was turning into as white, luminous and shining as were the forms of her parents. They were all joined together and Sami was smiling from ear to ear in their safe hands.

    Brother William looked over at Sami and said, “First stop will be the moon. You are so special we want you to know other special places in the universe.”

     It was heavenly to be lifted up as on silken hands into the colors of the sky. The blue was not frightening. Sami felt no terror, no alarm. She felt as if she were already at every place in the clouds where she was being taken.

     Sami looked down and saw her little bear looking so dejected. Hopper was left behind. The little bear was woofing and prancing about below her.      

     Sami could comfort her bear later.  For now Sami was soaring and enfolded into the atmosphere. Soon they closed in on the moon.

     Her mind gave her to imagine its surface. Sami was shocked by its starkness in comparison to her home in the Hoosier forest. She walked around in the bouncy way she pretended jumping.

    "Do you live here, mother?" Sami asked.

     "No, my darling." the wisps of ether responded.  "I live in the hands of God!"

     Sami's ghost father touched her brow.  It was as if a soft warm shower fell on her. Sami had to smile at the spirits of both her mother and father.

     “You are already living on the moon, my beloved child. You have always lived there.”
     Sue Ellen smiled at her daughter. There is no terror in the world that God makes, only a web of love.

     “I do not live on the moon!” Sami said.  But she had to admit that she enjoyed bouncing up and down on its surface and casting moon rocks about at targets that she and her father set up. Everything was so curious and unique.  It was like being in a magical place.

     Sami’s absence from her log cabin did however create one problem.
     Sami did live in parallel existences but in one of those realities there was another Sami, even though this other Sami was the same Sami and this other Sami was a very bad little girl. This bad Sami had awaited a chance to express herself ever since Sami was born.
     The extra Sami, this bad Sami, watched and waited and decided to tail the good Sami on her birthday quantum flight birthday gift.
     While William and Sue Ellen lifted their child out further into space, the bad Sami followed.  They began traveling at close to two thirds the speed of light. The ride was through what seemed like crackers in a sea of ebony.

     “I cannot breathe out here mother!” Sami said to Sue Ellen.

     The speeds were unbelievable and the sights of the galaxies and star systems were incredible and awesome.
     Sue Ellen told her daughter not to worry about the breathing stuff. “You do not need to breathe here, darling,” Sue Ellen told her. “You have an energy on the earth and a brain that is managing your life patterns that remains there breathing for you.”
     The bad Sami heard all of this and decided to do her mischief.
     While the Good Sami was flying about eternity, the Bad Sami slipped down to earth and took over the Sami still in Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin.

     Hopper immediately noticed her return.

     “Hi, Sami,” he said.

     Sami laughed mischievously.  “Let’s go outside, Hopper.”

     A little hen was strutting about outside.  The bad Sami ran after the hen and began pulling out her feathers while the unhappy hen squawked and shook her wings furiously until she got free.

     “Sami!” Hopper shouted. “What are you doing?”
     But the bad Sami just laughed and laughed.

     When Hopper tried to talk to Sami further, Sami ran back inside the cabin and went over to the hearth and scooped up a pan of coals.

     “Now what are you going to do?” Hopper asked.

     “I hate this log cabin,” Sami said looking about. “I never wanted to live here!” Then she threw the pan containing the red hot coals against the wall of the home.

     Quickly Hopper went over and retrieved the pan. Then he scooped up each one of the coals before any could cause Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin to be set afire and burn down.

     But the bad Sami wasn’t done yet.  She climbed on a chair and pulled down Longun from the gun rack on the wall.

     Uncle Carl Poe was outside during all of this with his back to the door so he could not know what was going on.

     Sami quickly loaded the musket as she had seen Uncle Carl Poe do a hundred times.

     “Sami! Sami!” Hopper yelled and he ran over to her.  “You need to put that gun down.”

     “I hate him,” she said referring to Uncle Carl Poe.  “He took me away from my mother and father.”
     “No he didn’t, Sami,” Hopper said soothingly.  “He is just stepping in to raise you.”

     “Well, he will be sorry,” the bad Sami said and she walked to the front door and opened it.

      In the meantime, the soaring good Sami, the birthday girl, was seeing space lightening and darkening in the midst of background lights from suns innumerable.

     “Mother,” Sami said. “I feel myself scattering.”
     And then they were in the midst of stars, each an angel and a foundation stone for heaven.  As they entered this place of universal stability and support, the angels turned their heads and nodded playfully.  It had been eons since they had seen a human child enter their realm in this way. They nodded to each joyously seeing Sami.

     And then suddenly there was blackness as if everything was here concentrated into a great totality as a void.

     And before them appeared a great space of nothing at all in the shape of a lamb who was in the midst of gathering sheep.  This lamb turned to look at Sami and laid down a staff and changed into the form of a man who walked on silver and golden feet toward her. Then he embraced her and took her within an original Word from which all existence was emerging. Sami was overwhelmed and filled with wonder. The lamb had become a voice as a sharp crackling thunder. Strangely Sami felt no panic. The scene was reassuring and overpoweringly joyful. Then the Good Shepherd smiled and told her “Return.”

     Sami felt like she was caught into the visions as waves of sound.

     And then, she heard the voice smile on Brother William and his wife and inform them to return the child to the Hoosier forest.

     William and Sue Ellen again picked up their child in their warm embrace and did as told returning Sami on a route that spanned the Milky Way as a watery road like Brandywine Crick.

     Up ahead was Uncle Carl Poe's cabin and Hopper screaming to “Stop!” at the bad Sami. No more needed to be said or done. 

     Immediately upon arrival the bad little Sami was absorbed into the good little Sami. The bad Sami dropped the musket.  Hopper went over and sat on it so nobody could see that Longun had been removed from the gun rack.

     Brother William said to his daughter, “You are back where you have always been but will you join me and your mother in our new home soon?"
     The little girl responded, "I don't know, father.  I have to take care of my bear."

     The spirit of the little girl's mother smiled and lifted her up into her windy arms for a last hug and then set her down.

     "Happy birthday, my child, I love you like the stars. One more thing to remember,” she said. “Where there is hatred, sew love.”

     And then William and Sue Ellen left for their home with God.

     "Don't worry Hopper," Sami said.  "We have many, many days together beneath this sky before I will leave and even then we will all live together again."

     Sami never knew that she contained a bad Sami after that.  The good Sami was so busy loving God’s creation that the bad Sami never wanted to express herself again.

      Sami said to Uncle Carl Poe, “I think today is my birthday!”

     “So might it be,” Uncle Carl Poe replied.

     “Let’s celebrate it,” Uncle Carl Poe said and he pointed to a jar of tree molasses he had earned from helping a neighbor gather sugar tree sap.

     Soon Sami had some of the molasses on corn dodgers.

     It was such an important day that Sami made extras for Hopper.

     Hopper was anxious as always to share everything with his sister. Hopper himself had reached a milestone.  He was all of ten pounds now.  He was still just right though for Uncle Carl Poe to pick up and hug from time to time and for Sami to cuddle with and remember her dream birthday of being with her mother and father.

     Hopper never told Sami how bad she had once been but he always kept an eye out to every creature he came across and later, when no one was watching, he put the musket back on the gun rack.

THE LOST MERMAID

 

     A New Purchase boy, Jeremiah Weasel, was a trapper. His father also trapped fur bearing animals and taught his son how to locate the animals of the forest along its cricks and where to find their dens, set traps and skin carcasses before his death in a trapping accident.

     Jeremiah was thirty three and knew no other love so compelling as his love of the outdoors.  Trapping memories, especially those with his father, filled his head.  When trapping, he felt a part of nature and he trapped nearly every animal imaginable to include the beaver, otter, muskrat, fox, minks, skunk and weasel. He knew all of the animals and provided his fellow settlers with furs to stay warm and food to eat. He was a part of a way of life for wilderness dwellers for thousands of years.

     He was called Jeremiah Weasel because he was the best trapper of weasels in all the territory. Weasels are small animals that mainly hunt woods mice, rabbits or small birds and whose skin turns white in the winter. In the summers their coats are brownish. They are very distinctive but not all hunters seek them out because they have a peculiar noxious odor. The tips of their tails are always jet black.

     In appearance Jeremiah Weasel was very strong and handsome.  Unlike many trappers, he kept his reddish brown hair short and he rarely wore anything but deerskin. He was always active and in motion.  He spoke quickly indicating how facile his thinking was.  He had a thick beard which he kept as trimmed as his head. He walked with a firm stride and his energy never seemed to slacken. His enthusiasm seemed boundless and optimistic beyond the attitude of his peers. It was as if he were quite out of the ordinary in his approach to life. He lived by himself these days out in the forest.  His parents were deceased.

    One day while he was in a smaller crick trapping for otter with a blind set, he followed tracks in and out of the water of the critters and to his great surprise he found himself confronting a woods fairy, a small magical creature. The fairy was very short, only about three inches high and was almost transparent in her body. Her features were very delicate and as indistinct as a dewdrop or a star as seen through a cloud. She wore a red conical hat over her long and flowing blond hair and a dress of green material woven with flower petals and flint souled silvery shoes.

     The fairy was winged and Jeremiah saw the amazed creature attempt flight from him but before she could ascend into the sky Jeremiah was able to hold her gently by the shoulders and ask her name.  She said her name was Ebenflo and then shook with fright and with regret saying, “Since you know my name, I must do your bidding.”

     But then Ebenflo composed herself more as she looked at Jeremiah Weasel.

     “I do not fear you,” she said.  “I recognize you as a changeling.” Fairies have the ability to recognize such people.  Changelings are substituted people of fairy origin who replace a human child at birth.

     Jeremiah had never dreamed he had such an origin and was so shocked to hear this news that he released the fairy.  Ebenflo flew off immediately.  She was invisible to most of the world but she could be seen by a changeling which is why Jeremiah had been able to notice her long enough to restrain her and speak with her.

     Nothing in his life changed from this news. In fact he forgot that he had heard such a startling revelation.  He could hardly believe it.

     Jeremiah continued to trap for skins. The best season was winter because then the coats of the animals of the forest were most luxuriant. The winter of 1818 was a boon for trappers.  It was an icy cold season and this meant that the forest animals grew very heavy pelts. Animals are also less "trap shy" in winter due to hunger. Jeremiah was a very able trapper and soon he had many skins for market from his winter’s work.

     In April he removed the skins from his stretch boards and loaded them up to take them to market in Cincinnati.

     He might have sold the skins there, but several flatboats were beginning their trips to New Orleans at the time. One of the adventurous river traders owned a Mississippi Broadhorn or “Kentucky Boat” and invited Jeremiah Weasel to go with him down river.  The boat was flat-bottomed and rectangular, about 100 feet wide by 20 feet, held corn on the ear and whiskey under cover and had a cabin for the crew. Jeremiah added his pelts. The flatboat was constructed of green oak plank over logs split in half to create two gunwales and held on with heavy wooden pins. Jeremiah was one of the four crew.  There was also a pilot who had been down river many times. 

      Traveling down the mighty Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the markets in New Orleans ordinarily took at least a month. Cooking was on a sandbox fireplace and the crew were given guns to ward off Indian attacks.

      There was little to do and somewhere south of Baton Rouge, Jeremiah decided to jump into the waters for a bath and a swim. At first the swimming was easy going. At the time, the boat was in the slack water of the river and barely moving.  The Mississippi had room for a swim.  It was several miles wide at this point.

     Jeremiah’s swim took him out of the slack water near the edges of the river.
Before long, Jeremiah found himself swimming in the main channel. His swimming strokes got him nowhere and he was barely able to keep his head above water. He felt like he was being fired downstream out of a canon.  There was no use in trying to fight this current even for a second. Jeremiah aimed his course back to the slack water and his boat but he could not make any headway at all. Fighting the current was impossible.  He tried to yell for help but he could not hear even his own voice.

     All that he could do was to allow the current to carry him swiftly downstream. There was no destination he could hope to swim to along the shore.  Flotsam struck him from time to time and eddies took him under water.   
     Occasionally, Jeremiah would struggle and try to angle himself at a tiny angle to get out of the current, but each time he tried, he was directed back into the main force of the mightiest of rivers. He saw himself passing by markers on the shore, through areas where other boats were tied to docks, past villages and the city he vaguely guessed was New Orleans. When he could think, he estimated he was going miles and miles downstream against his will. Eventually, he was swimming without consciously able to direct the direction or the depth. He was like a single drop of an immense amount of water moving with tremendous turbulent force, whirling and eddying and scouring at the banks of the huge river full of snakelike curves.

     Then he felt himself in a quiet place.  He was no longer buffeted around by waves he could not control.

     He was, in fact, held up by strange hands.
     Soon, he found himself gently deposited on a shoreline.

     When he looked up all he could first see was the ocean.  He had apparently been cast by the river out into the ocean.

     But then swimming away from him, he observed a mermaid.

     When Jeremiah called out to her, she turned her head to look at him. She had the upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish. Her hair flowed down from her head. Emerging from her flowing hair behind her ears were small fins and her skin was the light green of an emerald sea in its first light. She had soft brown eyes and a mouth set in an expression of pity. Her mouth made letter “O’s.”  Otherwise her upper torso was that of a beautiful woman with arms by her side.
     Jeremiah was struck.  Here was a woman who had saved his miserable life. He wanted to talk with her and thank her. In a very wobbly manner, he stood up and waved for her to return.

     The mermaid halted her return to the depths of the ocean.  She swam back towards the man and took a place on rocks near the shoreline and within talking distance.

     “Who are you,” Jeremiah asked.

     “Serena,” she said.
     “I am Jeremiah,” Jeremiah said. “Thank you for saving my life.”
     “I had to,” Serena said. “I don’t have any explanation for it. I saw you sinking beneath the waves and when I went to see what was happening, I saw your drowning face. I saw your body writhing and your arms helplessly drifting behind you. When I touched you, I had a feeling that you might never live on your ground again.”

     Then she asked him, “What ground do you live on?”

     Jeremiah answered, “I live in the New Purchase lands near the Tyner General Store.  It is far up the Mississippi River and on a branch of the Wabash River called Brandywine Crick.”
     The mermaid looked at Jeremiah intently for a few minutes cocking her head from side to side. It was as if she were trying to fix his appearance firmly in her memory. She said, “I went to you and held your face up to look at it.  My heart began to bump.  I was so close to you it was hard for me concentrate on anything else. I knew I must lift you up above the waves or else you would die.  Lifting you up through the water gave me a good and warm feeling. Holding you close was nothing I have ever known before.”
     Jeremiah called out to Serena to come to the shore.  He was too exhausted and near death to swim out to her.  He felt a lot of feelings running through him. He wanted to hold her closely and appreciate the same closeness that Serena had spoken about. They were caused by the sight of this strange and caring half-fish woman.

     “I cannot come to you, Jeremiah,” she said. “We live in different worlds.”
Then she dived down into the waters of the shore and disappeared.

     Jeremiah had never known such feelings. He had felt his heart jump and start

racing at the thought of being close to this mermaid who had saved him. Then he

imagined how foolish he would be to think about her close to him. Perhaps time

would permit his feelings to grow less intense.

     Eventually, Jeremiah was able to return to his home in the Hoosier woods.

     One day, Sami and Hopper saw a strange sight.  It was a mermaid swimming up Brandywine Crick.
     At the sight of Sami, Serena lifted her head out of the water and enquired, “Do you know of a man named Jeremiah who trades at the Tyner General Store?”
     “My Uncle Carl Poe trades there all the time,” Sami answered.
     “Do you know of a man who goes there named Jeremiah?”
     Sami and Hopper shook their heads No.

     “I must see him,” the mermaid insisted.  I have been swimming up river for many days and I cannot last in fresh water. I have swum up every crick off of the Wabash River for many days seeking him.  My home is in the salt water of the ocean.”

     The mermaid appeared exhausted and close to death.

     Sami and Hopper rushed over to Uncle Carl Poe.

     There seemed nothing to do but to take her to the Tyner General Store in a barrel of water.

     At the Tyner General Store, Serena was able to peek through a knot hole and eventually Jeremiah Weasel came to the store from out of his refuge in his cabin in the woods.
      When Serena saw Jeremiah she let out a shriek of joy.  Jeremiah heard the sound and went to investigate.

     There in the barrel he found the one woman he had idolized and longed to be near ever since she had saved his life.

      After many minutes of talk, Serena told Jeremiah, “I must return to water or I will die.”
     “Wait for me,” Jeremiah begged her.  Then he rushed off into the forest.

     Near his trapping lines, he began calling out, “Ebenflo! Ebenflo!”

     The fairy had to appear and Jeremiah demanded of her “Take me to my birth mother!”

     Ebenflo took Jeremiah through the woods.

     Up ahead was the fairy who was his birth mother.  She was seated against a tree that had almost grown up around her.  She was covered with cobwebs of neglect.

     “I have you up to a human mother whose child was stillborn,” she said.

     “Why?” Jeremiah asked.

     “It is the fairy code that a fairy must help the grief of human parents in whatever way we can.  Duty drove me to take from this woman her dead baby and replace her with you.”

     The fairy closed her eyes.

     “It was all I could do to change you from being my fairy boy to give you to good parents who I knew would raise you to be a fine man. Ever since then I have myself succumbed to sadness and I have only lived with the wish that I might someday see my son again.”

     Jeremiah took the fairy up from her sad state and held her in his strong arms.

     “Mother,” he said.  “You once changed me into a man.  Now change me again,” he begged.

     And so, Jeremiah rushed off to the banks of the Brandywine at Sami’s home.

     When he arrived, Serena was at the banks of the crick gasping for her life. Ebenflo and Jeremiah’s fairy mother also arrived and observed the happy scene.

     As Jeremiah jumped into the crick, his torso began to change.  Now his buckskin clothing was a terrible burden and he tore it off. He had the lower torso of a fish and behind his head and ears small fins greeted the crick waters.

    Two figures of green complexion welcomed each other closely as they had not been able to do in the waters of the ocean.
     “I shall never forget you mother,” Jeremiah called to his fairy mother as he and Serena began their long swim together down the Brandywine and into a life together in the far ocean.

TIMMY AND THE SUNBIRD

 

     Timmy was the toughest beaver kit in his litter.  He was always getting in fights and even the adults knew better than to get on his wrong side.  He was constantly wanting attention and didn’t mind throwing mud around the lodge to get it.  It did no good to try to tell him how to do something.  He always acted like he knew the best way and if he didn’t get his way he would argue or throw a tantrum or slap his flat tail on the floor until everyone was annoyed.  If an adult beaver told him to do something and he didn’t want to do it he simply wouldn’t and no amount of begging or pleading would get him to do the right thing.
     Everyone in the lodge gave up on Timmy except his grandfather who kind of remembered being the same way when he was that age.
     Timmy was a yearling beaver and he was not grown up enough to be on his own.  Sometimes he liked living in the lodge and sometimes he didn’t. His mother already had another litter of kits and she expected Timmy to help her care for the younger ones.  Timmy helped as long as he didn’t absolutely have to.  He gathered food for the kits, loved to groom them and played “sticks and rocks” with them.  His mother sometimes thought he was playing too rough with them but Timmy never agreed with her.
     Timmy’s grandfather saw a lot of potential in the boy.  Timmy was really more of a dreamer than any of his litter mates.  He was constantly coming up with ideas about reengineering the beaver pond and built little “getaways” or “hideouts”  by burrowing in the banks of the beaver pond when he had the time. When he put his mind to it, Timmy gathered succulent twigs and branches and bark for the family and was good at repairing the lodge.  He had sharp teeth and loved to gnaw at bark while holding a branch in his front paws. He helped his grandfather put on a new lodge addition, a separate room for drying off before coming into the main room of the lodge.  This kept the main room from getting soaked and muddy all the time and the praise given to the grandfather was shared with Timmy who had been his main assistant.
     It was Timmy’s grandfather, a fat old beaver named Plato, who had the bright idea of bringing a sunbird egg into the beaver lodge.  He saw how the birds lit up the sky and he imagined that his lodge could have indoor lighting from bringing a sunbird inside the main room hatched from a sunbird egg.  Over the years he had waddled around the woods from time to time looking for a sunbird nest and finally he found one and got him his egg.  He cradled it in his tired old paws and brought it into the lodge where he recreated the sunbird nest as best he could remember it.  Then he would stop at the nest from time to time and contemplate the egg and think what a great idea it was to have indoor lighting. He dreamed of having the finest beaver lodge in history.
     And then the momentous day happened.  First there was a tiny crack in the egg.  Then another and a piece got pushed out. Then a bright glimmer of light burst out and illuminated the lodge a little. The lodge was getting brighter and brighter and brighter.  Soon a little sunbird named Hope was entirely out of her shell and looking around.
     Plato greeted her with lavish praise and introduced her to Timmy and then the others.
     Hope was very tired and spent most of her first minutes dozing off after the tedious work of breaking out of her shell.
     After Hope started lighting up the lodge room the other beavers were greatly impressed.  They could see each other better than ever before. Wherever there was a spot of dust or a little messiness the beavers could see it to clean it up.  The lodge began looking very good with the wonderful help of Hope shining from her little birth nest.
      But as the day wore on and another, the beavers found their lives in the lodge hall had changed too dramatically.  No one could sleep.  The place was getting hot. Moms and dads were nagging each other saying they needed more privacy. The kids didn’t like it that their every move was scrutinized.  Tempers flared and something had to be done.
     The beavers came to general conclusion that having a sunbird in their lodge was not such a good idea.
     Plato decided he would put it all on Timmy.  He called in Timmy and said to him: “Timmy, GET THAT SUNBIRD OUT OF HERE!!!  If you don’t I am afraid this place is going to explode!”
     It was all going to be left up to Timmy, the one no one liked.
     The little hatchling, Hope, had only been out of shell for a matter of hours and already she wasn’t wanted any more than Timmy.
     It was already getting dark out and that is the time beavers leave their lodges and go about their business.  Plato made it clear. On his way out Plato told Timmy, “I want her out of here before I get back!”
     “Yes, sir,” Timmy said. Then the beavers went out of their lodge through their underground and under water exit.
     The little bird looked at Timmy with saddened eyes. She said to Timmy, “I can tell no one likes me or is ever going to be my friend in this world.”
      The little sunbird began sobbing.  She knew no one except some beavers who didn’t want her around.
      Timmy went over and put his paws around her and told her, “You don’t have to cry.”
     “Yes, but no one wants me,” she said.
     “That’s just because they don’t know you very well,” Timmy told her.
     She couldn’t stop crying out “KYOW, KYOW! I think my whole life will be lived with self-doubt and social anxiety!”
        “Now, now,” Timmy told her.
      The little sunbird continued, “Talk about rejection.  I have been ordered out of the only nest I have ever known.  How could I avoid feeling social rejection and fear of friends?”
      “There, there,” Timmy said to her patting her on the back until his paw got so hot it began steaming.
     “I don’t feel worthy of living!” she said and began wailing and wailing. “I wish I could hop back into my egg.”
     “You can’t go back there,” Timmy told her.  “The beaver lodge is simply not a good place for you to live.”
     “Okay,” Hope said.
     The two went to the underground lodge entry and Timmy ducked his head down and dived into the waterway.  The entry was under water. When he entered the pond after leaving the entry he was surprised to find that Hope had not followed him out  and when he looked back at the water just outside the entry he saw a huge cloud of steam arising.  Then he began to notice the beaver pond water level going down.
     “Oh no!” he thought.  “She is still under water and she is now so hot the pond will evaporate!”
     Timmy rushed back toward the underwater entry swimming like crazy with his back webbed feet thudding through the water and saw Hope at the bottom of the pond with huge bubbles of steam arising around her.  She was just seated there looking around very dejected.  Her look said, “Now what am I supposed to do!”
     She had followed Timmy out the exit and then sank to the bottom.
     “Oh, no!” Timmy thought to himself.  “Hope doesn’t know how to swim.”
     When he got closer to her, Hope looked at Timmy with her diamond eyes and blinked in dismay and shook her head very hopelessly. Timmy dived down to the very base of the pond.  Quickly Timmy got under her and pushed her back into the lodge with tiny little nudges and paw shoves. Every time he touched her he felt a ssssssssssssssizzle. Soon she had re-entered the beaver lodge back up its underwater entry.
     By the time he got Hope out of the pond, the water around the lodge was close to boiling and Timmy was as hot as a firecracker.  Finally the steaming ceased and the pond water began to cool down.
     Then Timmy began to fear that the beaver lodge would soon be afire. “Bam.” “Crackle” were little sounds every time Hope touched something. As Hope was growing older she was becoming a fire hazard as well as brighter and brighter.  A small flame began to spread in the matted branches on the floor where Hope was standing and Timmy rushed over to stamp it out and told Hope she must move around and not stand in one spot too long.
     Up overhead was the lodge’s air vent and Timmy decided he would have to use this exit to get Hope out of the lodge hall.  With all his might he jumped up to the tiny opening and grabbed ahold of its edge.  Then with his longer hind legs he began pulling down the sticks and wrenching out branches in the mud around the vent until the opening was much larger.  It was a tremendous effort but finally the roof began to loosen up and the part around the air vent began to fall within the lodge. Finally Timmy pulled himself up and out of the lodge and stood in the open air on its outside and urged Hope to spring up through the vent to join him.
     Hope had never jumped before and didn’t know what her stick legs were to be used for anyway.
    She looked up as Timmy showed her how to leap off the floor. He bent down his little body and then sprang up and told her to try it. After Timmy showed her how to pull herself down and then leap up a couple of times, Hope caught on and soon with a great bound and vault she joined Timmy on top of the beaver lodge through the expanded air vent opening.
     The sky had been so very dark outside and now it was as bright as day.
     There was another problem: How to get her to shore! Since Hope was not a swimmer, the only way to get her to the banks of the beaver pond was for her to fly. 
     “Do you know how to fly?” Timmy asked her.
     “No,” Hope answered.
     “You have to flap your wings,” Timmy told her.  “That is what wings are for!”
     “Oh,” Hope said.  Since she had emerged from her egg she had wondered why she had such beautiful long appendages. On them were such beautiful and shiny feathers. They were like Timmy’s front legs only longer and covered with feathers.
Hope flapped them and immediately felt a take-off up into the air.
     “Where shall I go, Timmy?” Hope said as she hovered over the beaver lodge.
     “Go over there to the bank of the pond and we will figure this out,” Timmy told her.
     As Hope lifted herself into the air she felt a wind updraft and took advantage of it to make a soar over the water of the pond and landed where Timmy had told her to go.  In the meantime, Timmy descended back into the lodge and emerged from the entrance and swam quickly – for the water was very hot still – until he joined Hope on the bank.
      When Timmy joined her, Hope felt much better. “What are we going to do?” she asked.
     “We are going to find you a home,” Timmy said.
     The two started off through the forest. Neither Timmy nor Hope was a very accomplished walker.  Timmy wobbled along on his webbed hind feet and Hope hopped awkwardly.  Never had two such clumsy hikers passed under the forest trees.
     As Timmy and the sunbird walked down a path in the woods, the whole forest began to notice them. The sunbird was shining brighter and brighter.  It was getting so that Timmy could hardly look at her.
     “I am hungry,” Hope said.
     “Hold on, Hope,” Timmy said to her.  “I see a willow tree and it has very delicious bark.”
     Timmy went over to the tree and began to gnaw off some succulent branches while Hope sat down patiently waiting.  After Timmy had gathered several shoots of willow he took them to Hope.
       “Thank you,” Hope said.  “You are the best friend I could ever have.”
     But when Hope took the shoots into her beak they all burned into cinders and little smoky pieces started to fall onto the ground. Then a hazy fire began to start where Hope was standing.  Timmy started seeing before him a horrible vision of a possible forest fire that would violently scream into a blazing storm. For a moment he thought about rushing back to the beaver pond and diving for safety under water.  But then he saw Hope and he simply couldn’t leave her.  Friends don’t abandon each other and Timmy and Hope were now friends. Timmy rushed over and spent precious minutes putting the little fire out by spanking the earth with his flat tail.
     Hope looked up at Timmy with her sad eyes and again shook her head in desolation. Hope knew she was the cause of the wild burn and she looked so anguished.
     “I am so sorry Hope,” Timmy said to her.  “We cannot give up.  We will find a home for you.”
     It was about this time in the middle of the night that Sami woke up with a start in Uncle Carl Poe’s cabin.
     She had not been able to sleep very well ever since she had heard that the last sunbird’s egg had been stolen by the beavers to light their lodge.  It was hard on her to know that the last sunbird needed to turn summer on was gone. No summer! The thought was horrible! No season for watermelons to ripen! No outside time to be with giants and trolls and fairies! No travel season for visitors to come! No bluebird and robin trilling! No tramping through the forest in hot balmy air!
     Sami slipped out of bed.  She could not sleep. When she did so, Hopper arose too. 
     The two went to the door of the log cabin, being careful not to wake Uncle Carl Poe.  Sami felt the urge to open the cabin door and step outside. Hopper joined her. When they looked outside they saw a very bright light in the woods and it appeared that the light was coming toward them from down crick.
     They decided to go meet it. What could this light be?
     Sami and Hopper kept close to each other as they walked down the crick path.  The night was very dark and practically moonless and there were many mysterious dark shadows and illusory forms around them.  If the two had not been together so tightly they would certainly have been very frightened. The night can scare the wits out of cowards who have forebodings of evil creatures or predators cringing behind trees or hiding to pounce on unwary passersby. Fortunately, Sami and Hopper were following a clear trail and the light they were moving toward was growing brighter with their every steps.
     Finally, up ahead they saw the source of the light. Hoping and wobbling toward them were Timmy and the sunbird.
     Timmy saw Sami and Hopper and flapped his tail on the ground several times to warn them not to do harm.  Then Timmy saw that the two approaching were a little girl and her fuzzy friend.
      Hope was very tired and sat down until they were all together.
     Sami immediately recognized the sunbird even though she had never seen one before.  This creature was the most beautiful and blazing living thing she had ever observed.
     And yet the sunbird looked so sad. “I am all alone,” Hope told Sami.  “I was born with the beavers but they do not want me anymore.”
     As they talked more, Sami told her, “Do not give up. There is room in the forest for everyone.”
     The little group sat quietly in the darkness for the longest time trying to act bravely. None had any ideas of what to do. The longer they sat the more hopeless the situation seemed. The stars twinkled on and on. None could think of something to do that would be a good first step toward doing something else to solve the problem. Fate seemed like she was laughing at them no matter how courageously they tried to confront her.
     Now the dawn began to break.
     Hope looked up into the sky.  Overhead, through her vision through diamond eyes, she saw a flock of birds as bright as she was coming into view. They were winging their way in the soft early morning air.
     At the same time, the brothers and sisters of Hope, flying overhead looked down and noticed their last sibling in the Hoosier woods below. Soon they broke away from the flock and flew down to land by her.
     “Hello, Hope,” one said to her.  “We have been waiting for you.  You are the last sunbird needed overhead to heat up the earth and cause summer to come.”
      Hope flapped her wings again just as her sisters and brothers were doing and together they rose into the sky to join the disc of the other sunbirds flying overhead and warming the day.
     Thus began the first day of the summer of that year. That last little bit of radiance from Hope changed the Spring into the sunniest season of the year.
     Timmy returned to the beaver pond where the waters from the crick above were already replenishing and refilling the pond and Plato and the other beavers were already repairing the lodge ceiling.  Timmy was welcomed as a hero and no longer was he considered a bad kit.  
    Plato used every word about a hero he could think of to say to his grandson.  He called him “Timmy the Unstoppable.” Timmy had risked his life to save his beaver lodge and remain true to a friend.
     Every day, the sun winked as it passed over the beaver pond and Timmy slapped his tail in greeting his friend Hope overhead. He knew the wink was hers even though he couldn’t see her because she was up so very, very high in the sky.
     Sami and Hopper returned to their home before Uncle Carl Poe could know they had slipped out.
     The creatures of the woods and its trees and habitants pieced this story together and whispered it over the years and it was recorded by a fine poet, Emily Dickinson, who wrote:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops – at all -
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet  -never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.  
    

VROCHI’S WELL

 

     Now that Sami and Hopper saw the last sunbird arise to join the sun flock, the weather took a turn for the heat.

     There came a run of ninety degree weather in the shade. Everybody was gasping and panting. Sami and Hopper couldn’t cool themselves down. They tried to imagine a land where the temperature was twice ninety degrees so they could feel cooler than that imaginary place but it didn’t work. They were still sweltering in the heat and everything they touched was scorching or sizzling.

     Their foreheads had more water from perspiration on them than was in the mostly dried up Brandywine Crick. 

     Where had the rain gone?

     People need rain. Plants need it too. Rain drenches the land and causes the clouds to arise from parched land. The clouds absorb the sun’s rays and keep those rays from overheating the earth to the point where life cannot be sustained. Rain keeps the Big Blue River flowing into White River and on into the Ohio before it joins the mightiest American river of them all, the beautiful Mississip. Without the rain waters of the rivers the oceans would dry up.

     As the need for water became more and more critical, one morning Uncle Carl Poe went searching for a good place for a well.

     He remembered how his people in the old country of England had located their wells. As a child he had seen the dousing rods at work. Now it was his turn to find water.

     Uncle Carl Poe knew where a willow tree was and he found on it a branch making a “Y” and cut it off.  Then he began dowsing for water. He held the stick out in front of him and began his search of his land. Uncle Carl Poe looked like a crazy man walking about here and there holding on to the “Y” handles and holding the stick out in front of him. After several trips he finally noticed the tip of the stick suddenly dip down to the ground.  He had located a vein of water and the spot for him to dig the well.   

     Then Uncle Carl Poe went inside and got his shovel and a bucket and handed the bucket to Sami. “Come on outside and help me dig a well,” he said.
     Once outside, Uncle Carl Poe dug and dug and loaded bucket after bucket with dry earth. It was hard work because the soil was so dry and caked. Sami took the loads down to the crick in front of the log cabin to build up this spot and keep floods away from the log cabin.

     Also the well had to be wide enough to get down in it to dig.

     In between carrying loads of well soil, Sami and Hopper got stones from the dry crick bed to line the well once water was reached.

      Finally down a couple of feet below the crick bed level, Uncle Carl Poe saw water seeping into his diggings. Down four or five feet the open well began to fill with water.

     Now the little family would have water for the summer.

 

     Finally all the work was done and the evening had arrived. 

     Sami lowered her bucket down in the well one last time that day to fill it with water.

     When she pulled up the bucket something shiny was in the bottom of the bucket.

     After examining the contents, she found it to be a ring.

     Sami was so surprised! But she also had a premonition. Something told her she was in danger from this ring.  On the other hand, she didn’t feel any particular warning. She had no vision of the future if she held this ring. Maybe the find of this ring was just luck.

     Then she had a vision that felt like time looping back on itself and curving forward and backward and then stopping briefly in the present with a voice.  The voice was strangely compelling and seemed like a singing vocal sound as an oracle expresses itself with information from the future striking into the present and commanding that Sami try on this ring.
     Sami thought at first she must be dreaming, or in a strange meditation or that her senses were struck with noticeable clues of impending danger.

     And yet her mind seemed clear enough. The ring was simply such a beautiful bauble.

     Sami put on the ring and it immediately disappeared but strange transformations took place in her body.  She seemed to delve into infinite space and time and return and then the color of her eyes became green and her hair turned pink. Her hands were elongated with claws. Her skin became scaly and from her back bony plates began thrusting out.

     She had become the child of some strange ancient reptile goddess.

     When Hopper saw what Sami looked like, he yelled, “Murder! Murder!” and ran inside the cabin and slammed the door shut.

     In the meantime, Sami now ran into the woods seeking her destiny.

     She traveled miles and miles, hundreds of them, perhaps even thousands of them – all without tiring in the least bit or even thinking about the distances. The journey passed on roads and countryside over and under bridges and through towns and watery places. Sami continued on relentlessly and without regard to time or place. She observed people living in huts and tents and houses constructed of every kind of material.

     Finally up ahead she saw a beautiful temple. It was on a high mountain, the place from which waters begin flowing down.  Guarding it were four headed dogs that could look in every direction. Only if the visitor was in the form of a votive could the person enter the sacred grounds. Sami appeared lizardy and colorfully enough for the guard dogs to recognize her as a votive. Somehow Sami knew she must go into the temple. Fortunately the ring had changed Sami so she could pass within.

     This temple was the home of the Spirit of the Coming Rain, Vrochi.

     There had been a time that God had feared people would not have sufficient water.

     He set a spirit to provide rain when people faced a terrible drought.  If ever there came a time when people were desperate for rain, God directed Vrochi to provide relief. 

     To do this, Vrochi scattered rings around the earth. Once worn, the rings would take the people to her temple and she would arise and bring rain.

     When Sami knocked at her door, there was no movement inside.

     No one had contacted Vrochi for help since the ages of the dinosaurs.

     Sami went into her bed chamber and she lay with cobwebs encasing her.  She was reptilian looking.

     Sami was not afraid in the least.

     Vrochi awoke as she sensed the presence of a votive. She picked up Sami in her arms and held her close.
     “You are not one of my reptilian children,” she said thoughtfully. 

     “No, I am not,” Sami said.

     Vrochi said, “I have never seen one of your kind. The ages when I was most needed must have passed. You found my last ring,” the Spirit of the Coming Rain said. 

     Then Vrochi removed the ring from Sami’s finger.  When she did so, Sami returned to her more usual five year old form.  Once again Sami was the little girl she had always been wearing her leather moccasins on her feet and in her woolen dress and bonnet covering her blonde hair.

     Quickly Hopper came running up to her and hugged her as ferociously as a bear can.

     It was now Vrochi’s task to fulfill the promise of her rings. Vrochi carried Sami back to the log cabin of Uncle Carl Poe on the wings of the winds.

     After setting Sami down at Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin, Vrochi rose through the air and rain began to fall.  It filled Brandywine Crick and it also filled Uncle Carl Poe’s new well.  As it began to fill, Vrochi waved good bye to Sami and disappeared into the well and she has never been seen again. 

     The well is different now. Uncle Carl Poe improved it greatly.  Around the well, Uncle Carl Poe dug in four posts and threw boards around three of its sides up to waist high.  The open side was left for the well pole.  One end of this pole connected to a rope with a wooden bucket on its end.  The other end passed through a tall “Y” branch and was secured to a peg when not in use.  The well pole, when lifted on its handler end would descend on the other end deeply into the well where water could fill the bucket. 
     Now there are arguments every day among the Hoosier people.  It is either too wet or dry out. They can’t get their work done because of the rain or the crops won’t grow because there is not enough of it. Storms are coming or the sky is so clear that rain isn’t coming to provide relief. There is always grumbling and complaining. But it is just as easy to rejoice that God’s plan is to provide the rain when it comes. Trusting in providence works.

     We might just as well. No longer is there a single Vrochi’s ring.

    

CORN PLANTING

 

     Once there was a beautiful valley garden surrounded by the highest mountains and whose whereabouts had become lost to the world.  Only a great school was located here. News of the surrounding world only rarely was heard within.

     The place was a refuge for the kindly and wise centaur Charon who lived in a cave opening into the garden. This centaur was known for his learning throughout the ancient world and the sons and daughters of the great people of all lands sent their children to live with him and learn from him lessons of justice and equality.

      They were also taught to view what they saw as shadows of a more real world illuminated by the sun of truth.

      The warp of time was barely felt in this thriving place of reflection and study and those who took residence in this sheltered garden lived lives of many spans. Rarely does history record their names for among the virtues they were taught were humility and selflessness.

      Then came the dark years of humanity when the horrors of raids and war and the subjugation of one people by another became common. The memory of the former times when people’s rights were important were lost.

     Now the children did not go to Charon any longer and those who had been left with him to be educated were hastily retrieved by their worried parents.

     Only one child was left in this sheltered place. This child became the last and only student of Charon until the centaur died.

      By the time of Charon’s death this child himself had become an old man. His appearance was straggly, tall and thin and his hair was as white as the snows on the mountains surrounding the garden.

     There came a time when this last student, out of loneliness, decided to abandon the garden and re-enter the world of others.  A majestic bald eagle with a wing span of over forty feet had taken up residence in the valley and was nourished by its enervating and promoting vegetation until it had reached the size whereby the old man could ride on its back. Over the years, this last student had trained this mighty eagle to transport him and he now used this eagle to lift him out of the valley to travel from his garden home

     Encircling the earth he noted that there were many great centers of culture and civilization.

     His interest was most aroused when he observed a fine looking plantation where a man named Thomas Jefferson was drafting a Declaration of Independence.   After reading this document, the visitor decided he must associate with the country being founded.

     The man heard the name United States and he immediately thought of each state as a star.

     Soon he found himself fascinated by observing a man named Benjamin Franklin testing the spark from an experiment with a kite in a lightning producing storm.

     Then he noticed the bravery of George Washington as he led country and city lads in a makeshift army seeking independence of the United States from a distant land.

     Quite accidentally, Uncle Sam discovered the treasure of the piracy of Captain Kidd hidden beneath Trinity Church, New York and from time to time, as when the Treasury bills of the Continental Congress became near worthless he delivered sums of its gold anonymously in barrels found in Independence Hall marked “U.S.” He chuckled when he heard those discovering the barrels state that they must have come from Uncle Sam.

     In his travels, this student of life stopped to observe the commerce of the busy harbors of Boston, New York, Providence, Charleston, Baltimore and Philadelphia and the industry of citizens of the states.    

     He was so enthused about this new land that he adopted its colors of red, white and blue for his attire.
     From time to time he would alight from his eagle.  These would be times when he saw a nation builder needing a word of encouragement and a dose of hope as to how his efforts would aid the future of his adopted country.

     When people would see him they began calling him Uncle Sam.

     One day he was flying on his American eagle over the Appalachians and saw a settler in the great Hoosier forest.

     Uncle Carl Poe had a cornfield to dig. It was very hard work for him. He was heavy and not nearly as athletic or strong as his brother William. Nevertheless! He found a spot where the trees were not too thick to fell with his sharp edged ax. Then as he turned over the rich soil, roots fought him for every inch. He could only scratch the surface to make a furrow with a crooked stick and it did not help much to attach an iron point. As the sun beat down he sweated and tanned.

      Every now and then he would look around because he felt someone watching him.

He would turn and shake his head.  Someone was whispering, “Follow well in order, get your weapons ready!”
     “My weapons?” Uncle Carl Poe could not believe his ears. “What weapons?” he wondered as he held his shovel tightly in hand.  His ax leaned against a poplar. “These are my only weapons,” Uncle Carl Poe yelled out at the voice.
     Then he thought, “I don’t have time to waste in imagination! I have my children to feed.”  He again picked up his stick and began scratching out the ground.
     Heedlessly of being ignored, the voice continued, “We must march my darlings. We must bear the brunt of danger. We are a youthful sinewy race, all of us of every color and sex and mental capacity and orientation and shape and size. All the rest on us depend.”
     Uncle Carl Poe could not have been more annoyed.  “You’ll see my weapon!” Then he shook his stick in the air.  Uncle Carl Poe could see nothing more of where this voice was coming from.
     Then Uncle Carl Poe continued scratching at the ground trying to dig out a furrow to plant some precious corn kernels he had traded for.  The branch he was using refused to turn much soil.  Uncle Carl Poe was bent over and awkward. If he poked the stick too far in the soil he fell down and dropped in a great dump. Once he ripped his dear skin trousers and uttered a great “Eeeeow!” When Sami saw him like that he felt goofy. Every now and then he used his ax to cut at roots and sometimes tripped on them. His hands grew raw and he felt stupid trying to plant the first crops on his farm. He might as well have Hopper, his pet bear, paw out the ground.  He would not be as clumsy.
     The whisperer was in fact hiding behind a huge oak tree. He was more colorful than the forest birds. A sinewy and thin fellow, he was wearing a red and white striped pair of pants, a top hat with a white star hatband and a blue frock coat whose tails flapped behind. The wind caught his white haired goatee and it fluttered and bobbed.
     It was Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam loved to wander the West of his adopted country. He savored his moments of seeing its youth struggling with human efforts, wearying themselves in cultivating the new American lands, drooping in exhaustion, tramping over future fields of grain to feed the world even those beyond the seas.
     Uncle Sam wiped his brow.  It was time to get to work.
     He returned to his American eagle and mounted to fly to Massachusetts, the earth’s home for an inventive people. The effort of establishing America was coming along just fine.
     Before long he was at the workshop of Jethro Wood. Quickly Uncle Sam ordered one of his cast iron plows and left gold for it to be picked up later that week. When ready, Uncle Sam roped it about his scrawny neck and grasped the rope and pulled it to his awaiting American eagle.
     Then he resumed his flight towards the new St. Mary’s Treaty land on the western frontier of his adopted nation.
     Uncle Sam landed his eagle, untied the iron plow and left it in front of the log cabin of Uncle Carl Poe.
      Sami saw the strange looking man land his eagle as if he were falling awkwardly out of the sky.  She also saw the man wearing the red, white and blue outfit lift himself up in the sky on his huge eagle mount.  She waved at him with all her might to attract his attention. When Uncle Sam saw Sami waving at him he waved back and smiled.
     “Let your neighbors use that plow when your Uncle is through with it,” Uncle Sam called out.
      Then Uncle Sam continued on in his flight. He headed West. The West would be a fine addition to his homeland.
      On the way he entertained pleasant thoughts about Uncle Carl Poe. Uncle Carl Poe was self-reliant as he liked to see, making his mark and refusing to submit to adversity.     
      There were many other places to visit.  Uncle Sam must travel through difficult terrain, climb steep mountains and search for passes. There would be mines to dig and hunting trails to explore. Up ahead would be many routes never before traveled. There would be many new forests to fell, rivers to cross, high plateaus to survey, soils of every type to be cultivated and industries and grand city buildings to be built on the way towards the far Pacific Ocean.
     When Uncle Carl Poe found the iron plow and traced its moulding he lifted his hands to the sky in thanksgiving. He realized that there was a spirit of encouragement active in America. It was as if hands were embracing him and then strangely disappearing. The moment of encouragement passed but in his mind formed the thought that he must never yield or falter.

THE DEER REBELLION

 

     Early summer had arrived and the weather sometimes got hot in Indiana, so hot it was a relief to go swimming in the little crick by the log cabin. The wild rush of the spring waters was over and now the crick was slower and not so hard on the cattails and rushes and bulrushes. Sami and Hopper took to the calming crick waters. It was such fun to splash around and feel the ripples one by one.  Sami could always find a new root to clutch onto and stay under with and scare Hopper to death about if she’d drowned.

     Now that he had two more mouths to feed, Uncle Carl Poe began to hunt more and more and dream less and less. Sometimes he had to look so hard for game that he was out when the lightning bugs became like flakes of starlight over the darkened forest. Little did he know that the deer of those parts were beginning to learn to hunt back.
     Once there was a fawn born in the forest. He was reddish brown in color with white spots and had little buds on his forehead where antlers would one day grow. His name was Zeus.

     The other deer didn’t pay much attention to Zeus at first. Deer are very busy animals, grazing most of their waking hours. They only live about six years or so and don’t have long memories.

      Zeus knew he was growing up fast when he grew his first set of antlers when he was about one year of age. As he grew up, he observed his brothers and sisters and his friends in the deer herd being hunted, shot at and dragged away. Sometimes he witnessed people wearing the skins of his friends.  Often when he heard the blast of a long rifle he saw the entire herd rushing about and scampering away and meekly seeking shelter from the terrible loud sounds.

     All of this seemed so unfair. Why did the herd act this way?  The hunters who always seemed so victorious weren’t nearly as big as the buck deer.  The bucks were almost always over two hundred pounds and the does weighed nearly as much.  Besides that the deer were so much more beautiful with their stately antlers and their fluffy little white tails. When alarmed, those beautiful white flags perked up in back like battle banners. Yet, the battles were always lost unless there was a cowardly retreat.
     One day Zeus when he was still a fawn peeked into a log cabin owned by a solitary settler named Hedgeapple Ben because of the way his head looked and observed a horrifying sight.  There on the walls of his log cabin were many pairs of antlers on pegs.  He recognized some of those antlers as being from the stags of the forest and one looked very much like the antlers of his own father.
     He reared back in horror when he saw that display and got sick at his stomach. He pawed his own head where nubs were.
     Zeus decided that something must be done.
     Soon he was older and he recruited several of his friends to join him in military training.  The other deer began to listen to him and soon Zeus recruited many of them. He taught the deer to march and salute their superior officers.
     He taught his buck deer army to march in a line with two rows at least three feet apart because the racks of their antlers had to be at least two feet wide to be drafted. The first row reared up and kicked and for maximum effect they would fall back as the second row would rear up and finish the job.
     They also undertook training in antler combat.  Here they were taught where to render fatal puncture wounds to hunters such as from a bound to the neck.
     The training was very hard and some deer were left behind with broken legs or deep flesh wounds.
     Being aggressive was very difficult subject for the buck deer since they had never learned the rules of maneuvering as a military force and they all preferred quiet lives except during buck fights for breeding rights in the spring.
     The deer plan was to maneuver in undersize company level units based upon the best intelligence available.  They must attack settlers even when they were armed with their muskets and long rifles.
     Their training area was deep into the Big Woods where Zeus hoped that no one would notice them while they trained for combat.
     When they were ready, they marched in a daring line against the log cabin of Hedgeapple Ben. Some of the deer had trouble with walking in a straight line and one got his rack of horns caught in a thicket of scrappy bushes.
    When they arrived at the log cabin of Hedgeapple Ben, Zeus knocked at the door with his antlers.  When Hedgeapple Ben came to the door and saw Zeus with newly sprouted beautiful antlers he immediately thought here is another rack to add to my collection. Hedgeapple Ben got his musket and went out of doors to greet his guest.
     Up ahead Zeus nodded his head to lure him out into the woods and showing the hunter his beautiful set of horns.
    Hedgeapple Ben couldn’t resist following after him out into the woods.
     The troops of bucks had been deployed one company on each side of the path a quarter mile away.  As Zeus passed through he reached regimental headquarters and had his bugler blow “Charge” as Hedgeapple Ben entered the attack zone.

     Hoofs flew at him and antlers tore into him from all directions.
     After Hedgeapple Sam was dispatched Zeus went to his log cabin, opened the doors and knocked down the various sets of trophy antlers.  He hoped that never again would his friends be dehorned like that and turned into trophies.
     The deer chose as their second objective Uncle Carl Poe.
     They found Uncle Carl Poe out planting corn between stumps of a small field near his log cabin.
     The deer attack left Uncle Carl Poe confounded.  Why were these deer marching toward him at the double quick with the hoofs in the air? How could they walk on their hind feet so long without military discipline?
     As they got closer, Uncle Carl Poe decided something was amiss and he ran toward his log cabin, got Longun and shot in their direction.
     The deer immediately ran.
      The only deer left was Zeus.
     “All you have is your gun you big coward,” Zeus shouted at Uncle Carl Poe. “Otherwise you and I could duke it out.”
     Another shot rang out.  Zeus himself decided to run. He ran so hard he didn’t notice some Bob-whites’ raising up and whizzing by to the call of a nearby whistle.

     Zeus was ashamed of himself for running but he had to think what else could he do?
     If the deer were to rid the forest of hunters, they must use more stealth.

     He lay down in some sheltering grass flat on his back and thrust his legs straight up into the warm May air very lazy like. It was so comfortable to be in May in the Hoosier forest. Everything was growing up lusciously and emeraldy green. He looked at the clouds to seek inspiration.

     About this time his friend Io, a beautiful little girl doe, came across him resting through and through.

     Zeus told him of the defeat of the deer rebellion but Io had an idea.
     Soon Zeus and Io called for a new deer meeting. In council, a new plan was formed.  It was proposed by Io, the cleverest of all the deer and one who had a piece of deadly knowledge.
     She had come across
one part of the forest that only she had discovered. It was the lair of the dragon wolf.
   The dragon wolf was the mutant child of a wolf and the dragon of Tadcaster Heath near
York, an ancient dragon that flew over to America to continue preying on the European immigrants she had preyed upon in the old country.  She had settled into the Hoosier forest and born a child of a mighty wolf known as “Rex.”

     Once a collar was slipped over this mutant monster’s head, all the forest creatures – from the bugs and mice to the mighty woods buffaloes - pulled the chains to the glen, wrapped the chains securely to a mighty rock and kept the dragon wolf there. None would have had a chance to survive if all the food were to be devoured by this monster. 

     All the creatures of the forest acted together to chain this monster to a rock in a glen known as Cry Baby Glen.  The ghost of a baby eaten by this monster cried out to warn folk not to get within the chain links of this monster.

     This had happened many years before and the forest creatures forgot that their land harbored a horrible criminal animal hideous to look at and capable of wrecking lives and imposing instant deaths.
     Now Io convinced Zeus and his army to lure Uncle Carl Poe and then the other settlers into the lair of this monster. The plan required a valorous buck to instigate a hunt by a settler and to lead the victim into the lair.  When all the settlers were dead, the army of deer would break in the log cabins and butt them down with their antlers and wipe out all other vestiges of the hunters.

     Zeus volunteered to be the first bait.  He would attract Uncle Carl Poe as his first entrapment.
     Zeus learned the route to the dragon wolf from Io and then went to the cabin of Uncle Carl Poe. Uncle Carl Poe was inside taking a nap.
     Zeus had appeared so closely to the cabin that Sami and Hopper thought he wanted to play and went to him. Zeus thought he might as well lead these settler children into the trap.

     Sami and Hopper thought it was a beautiful day for a tramp in the Hoosier woods following this enticing playmate.

     The whole sky was bright blue and fresh air was in volumes to breathe easily. The spring had caused plants to thrive and grasses to spear up and it was fun to run through the thick and soft forest shadows.
     Zeus led them deeper and deeper in the woods. They followed after the sneaky young stag happily. The leaves waved to them and they waved back. Hopper got a little tired here and then.  One time he spotted a bluebird’s nest up a tree and wanted to climb up the tree to see if it had eggs but Sami said, “No.  We will lose sight of the fawn.”

     Soon there was the sound of the cry baby at the dragon wolf’s lair.
     Sami and Hopper immediately ran to see the place.
     As they did so, the dragon wolf appeared at the length of his chain scaring Zeus and causing him to fall.
     The monster roared at Sami and Hopper with a horrible sound.
     Seeing the handsome stag on the ground with a broken leg inside the ambit of the monster’s chain and the dragon wolf ready to pounce on him, Sami and Hopper each took one of the stag’s legs and pulled him to safety.
     Then Sami wrapped his leg with a piece of her cotton shirt so that he could walk.
     Zeus limped back to his troops. He thought to himself.  This settler girl saved me from death. I could have died.  Then he remembered the look of Sami.  Someday this little girl will grow up and die as I must die too.
     Then Zeus thought there is an equalizer but it must never be the monster wolf of Cry Baby Glen.
     His desire for revenge was dashed.  He discharged his deer army.
     He could not bring himself to deal death to Sami and if others must resort to violence so be it.  For himself as well as for his former army he concluded that killing must never be the guide for his kind.

THE HALF DEAD LADY

 

     Once there was a woman who wandered into the Hoosier woods about the time that the land was being settled.  Most of the settlers were family people, men and women and children. Many were looking for opportunity.  But Brenda Brown was looking to escape.  She was twenty and unmarried.  She was a beautiful woman but the only man who she loved was a Miami Indian named Barri who helped on their Ohio farm.  They became close but her parents refused to let her marry him. In fact they had him blinded so that he could never see her again and he slunk away to return to the home of his tribe.
     There appeared no future for her at her parents’ home in Ohio so she literally wandered away from that home in a hopeless venture to find herself. Her parents searched for her but she could not be located.
     Brenda refused to take with her any resources from her parents’ home and when she arrived at a small crick hollow along Blue River in Central Indiana she decided to live there no matter what.  She was tired of running from her loneliness and alienation from life.
     With her bare fingernails she dug out a shelter from a muddy bank and waited for the end to come. Surely, she would not have to wait long until the misery of her life was over.
     Neighbors did find her there and sometimes went to her open sided hovel to bring food or carry a bucket of coals to start a fire for her as the temperatures plunged.
     As the winter progressed she became more and more isolated and contact with neighbors decreased.  What food was provided her grew more and more meager.
     Brenda was left to survive on plant foliage and nuts dug out from snow banks.
     At night the cold became more and more telling.  During one evening of below zero temperatures, her arms became so cold that they lost all feeling and turned blue and she became so hungry that as she was attending to her left arm to try to warm it the taste of its flesh became too tempting and she found herself biting into it for sustenance.  She wrapped the arm in her scraps of clothing which stopped the bleeding from the wounds and she fell into a coma.
     When she awoke the weather had improved but she was left with a skeletal arm.  Her clothing could not hide that her decimated arm hung out. The entire humerus or upper arm bone was exposed at its juncture in the scapula or her upper body. The lower arm along with its elbow bones of the ulna and radius also dangled down to the wrist bones.  The radius, on the thumb side, was also clearly evident as were the digits and phalanges of her hand.
     There was nothing she could do to return the flesh on her hands and arms and she tumbled into even further depression.
     Fortunately for her, spring had arrived and with what was left of her body she was able to shore up her shelter from the elements and find food sources in the woods to eat.
     All of her neighbors were shocked and repelled when they saw what had happened.  They began to call her a Half Dead Lady.  As time went on, Brenda’s skeletal arm became whiter and whiter and more and more bleached by exposure to the elements.
     As it turned out Uncle Carl Poe’s cabin, though not particularly close, was one of the nearest to Brenda’s “camp.”
      Sami and Hopper had taken food to her from time to time.
     Then one morning Sami saw an iron cooking pot tumbling down Brandywine Crick. Sami and Hopper fished it out of the crick and brought it up to the shore.
     Little did they know that they had in their possession a Pot belong to the Fates.
     Sami and Hopper did not need it and decided to take it to Brenda’s for she had no pot or anything but despair at her habitation.
     They were having a very difficult time because the pot was so heavy for a little girl and a bear cannot carry things when a blind Indian appeared in the woods.
     “I have been looking for a lost friend,” the Indian said. “I was told she was hiding in this wilderness.”
     When he described her, Sami and Hopper knew at once that he was describing Brenda. They told him they could take him to her.
     He agreed to carry the pot as they journeyed to her home.
     Earlier that morning the three Fates awoke in their forest dwelling. Immediately they discovered that their pot was missing.  The ground beneath it had eroded into the crick and it was not to be seen.  Initially they searched the crick bed close by but they could not locate it.
      Quickly the Fates set off down crick to see if they could locate it. They must not be gone long. Their absence would be catastrophic for people. Their work was vital to life. Unless Clotho spun her flax into a new thread, there would be no new life. Unless her sister measured her threads from time to time and wove them into a quilt of life, lives would have no accomplishments. Unless her sister Episkeni washed the quilt and repaired its tears in their iron pot, the quilt would lose its great beauty. And lives would become dirty and muddied over. Unless Atropos, the final sister, cut out the unneeded threads lives would never end.
     The Fates and particularly Episkeni needed the pot and assumed it had been swept downstream. All of the Fates joined together to begin their search for their pot.
     There on the bank of the crick outside the home of Uncle Carl Poe they discovered marks of where a heavy object had been dragged out of the crick.
     The Fates knocked at the door of Uncle Carl Poe to enquire if the pot was within.
     “No,” he said. “But the children have it. They have taken it to the home of Half Dead Lady who has no pot.”
      “But that is our pot,” the Fates said. “We repair the quilt of life by washing it in the pot every day. “
     Uncle Carl Poe told them how to find the woman.
     The Fates hurried down the path to retrieve their pot.
     So many things were happening in the world that needed discarded and washed clean in the pot.
     When they arrived the blind Indian was meeting Brenda. When they embraced the blind Indian could not see that Brenda had only a skeletal arm. Brenda was so overjoyed to see her long lost beloved that she could care less that Barri was blind.
     The Fates confronted Sami and Hopper.
     “Give us back our pot.”
     Sami replied, “Help these people and we will give you back your pot.”
     The Fates answered, “But it has no liquid to wash away their disabilities.”
     It was then that the Indian felt the arm of Brenda and noticed that it was skeletal.
     Then Brenda saw how her being half dead had caused grief.
     Both began to cry.
     Quickly Sami and Hopper picked up the pot and took it beneath the two lovers crying and caught their tears and placed them in the pot of the Fates.
     Then the pot bubbled and sparkled
     When Brenda thrust her skeletal arm into the pot it was restored and when she then splashed some of its liquid on the eyes of her beloved Barri his eyesight was restored.
     The Fates quickly sped away with their pot up the Brandywine Crick to their secret home overseeing beginnings and endings.
     No longer was there a Half Dead Lady in the woods and she and her husband homesteaded one of the finer farms in the neighborhood.                                                                 

WUNKING

 

     This was a day very much like all the other early June days, and after Uncle Carl Poe and Longun disappeared into the woods, Sami and Hopper bounded out the log cabin door and headed for their usual playground which was Brandywine crick. 

     The crick greeted them warmly.

     They heard some squawking from upstream and decided to go investigate.

     Up ahead was a passel of wild geese strutting about with their long thin necks busy pecking away at the grasses alongside the stream.  Where one went another tagged along behind until what you would see would be a great parade of marchers.

     Hopper and Sami would have liked to join the parade but they could not because the lead goose noticed them and then all of them got to talking and comparing notes about whether either Hoper or Sami had one of the feared muskets with them.         

     Some were squawking “Yes!” and some were squawking “No” and others were just suggesting they get out of there.

     Finally a lead goose slid down a muddy bank to the crick itself and headed to the other side of the crick and got to the other side with the parade eventually heading up a hill into the safety of the denser woods.

     It was easy to navigate the Brandywine at this time.  Its wild ravages after it filled up with water after a storm were a thing of the past.  Now it just bubbled along very matter of factly.  The bubbly noises were very comforting and lulled almost every tree along its length to take life casually and lazily.

     Only the little brown squirrels stuck their heads out to see4 what was going on as Sami and Hopper continued to walk along the bank.

     They wanted to see what they could find.  Up ahead near some heavy dull colored boulders Sami found an arrowhead from a long past Indian encounter with game.  They both checked out the boulders to make sure they weren’t gold or sugar and then split up again to look for other new and exciting playthings.

     But Hopper found something quite different. Hopper found a hole down by the crick. 

     This hole looked very similar to every other wide hole in the whole of creation except that there was a smell of something living to it that attracted Hopper’s nose.  Hopper kept sniffing and nose poking the hole over and over.  There was something fascinating and exciting about this particular hole.

     He went to tell Sami about it.  Sami had waded out into the water where she had heard a big splash.  It was a muskrat diving into its hole a little way away.  Muskrats didn’t like people very much and simply could not distinguish with their bad 200/400 vision between dangerous men people and harmless little girl people.

     When Hopper got to her he told her to pull out of the crick and come see this juicy smelling hole he had found.

     Sami and Hopper had thought they were playing along the crick alone all this time but up ahead they learned very differently.

     Up ahead was the sweetest looking little girl!   She was barefoot and her feet were as muddy as Sami’s.  I’ll bet she had been playing in the crick too.

  She was a redhead with freckles and when Sami asked her name she said her name was Annie.

     “Where did you come from?” Sami asked. This little girl had almost appeared by magic.  It was as if she was unreal and like a vision.

     “I don’t come from anywhere,” the little girl said.  She had a little mysterious and attractive smile on her face and she walked up to stand by Sami and stare her in the face.  Annie wasn’t a big girl or imposing at all.  She was a made-to-order playmate.  She acted like she was not going to leave until she got Sami’s full and complete attention.

     “Well, where do you live?” Sami asked her.  “Do you live around here?”

     “Well, of course I do,” the little red headed girl answered.  “I have lived here forever.”

     Then the little girl pointed down the bank of the crick and directly at a dark place a short distance from an eddying place of the little crick where a mud islet had crick water flowing on both its sides.  What do you call them plants were growing all about the hole so you could hardly see it unless you happened to.

     “Down in that hole over there,” Annie replied. 

     Annie went over to look down in the hole with her friend by her side and when she did look down in the hole her eyes got very big because there were so many little big things down there doing so many odd twists and turns and tucks and bows.  It was hard to focus on everything moving around from one place to another.  You could see everything going on because it was so bright and shiny down in the black hole.

     “I don’t see a bed down there,” Sami said, “but I do see everything else. I don’t see how anyone could get any sleep down there.”

     “It is hard,” Annie said. “I haven’t had any sleep in two hundred years.  Do you see my woofer?” Annie asked.

     “No,” Sami said.  And then she scratched her head. “What is a woofer?”

      “Well it squidgicates,” Annie said.

      Sami scratched her head again and then scratched her head again while looking down into the hole.  She didn’t see anything squidgicating.

     When she looked up Annie was still standing beside her but she had a big bouquet of daisies in her hand.

     “Where did those flowers come from?” Sami asked.

     “I picked them for the king,” Annie said matter of factly.  “He is going to have a ceremony today to crown my pet toad Squeeze.  Squeeze is going to be the new prince.”

     Sami was fascinated by the daisies, which grew bigger, and bigger every time she looked at them and smelled like wild roses. The ends started shining and then dripped liquid gold.

     “Would you like to go see my playroom?” Annie asked and motioned for Sami to come jump down the hole with her if she wanted to.

     While she was trying to decide, next to her popped up a little boy named Andy.  He had ragged trousers held up by suspenders.

      “How can you live in a hole?"  the little boy asked Annie.

     “Well, you do too!” Annie said to him.

     “What kind of people are you?” Sami asked.

     “We are wunks,” Annie said.  “When we come out of our hole, we can take any shape we want.  Sometimes when you look around the woods and see a strange bush or a moving tree, it is us.  But today we wanted to be kids.” Annie said.

     Andy nodded in agreement and when he nodded one of his ears fell off and he had to bend over to brush off the ants that got to crawl on it before he put it back on.

     “Will you play with Hopper and me?” Sami asked.

     “Sure,” they both said.

     Annie started walking on her hands and Andy started walking up a tree just like he was walking on the ground.  Then Annie looked over to Sami and gave a big grin.

“Do you know how to eat cleaves?”

     Annie leaned down and rooted around in the ground for a few minutes and then pulled out a strange looking plant.  It had the appearance of lettuce growing upside down.

     “If you eat this, you can turn yourself inside out.”

     Then Annie ate some and the next thing you know her smiler was on the inside of her cheeks and her eyes were poking out of the back of her head.

     “Would you like to look like this?” Annie asked her.

     Sami was thinking about the pros and cons.

     But before she could come to a conclusion, Hopper came over and said, “Be still!  Indians.”

     Sure enough, coming up Brandywine Crick was a canoe with Miami warriors from the hunter’s village down at the Blue River juncture.  The Indians had their weapons in hand and were searching the woods as they were coming along.

     Andy snuck behind a tree and reported back that the warrior chief had settler scalps around his belt.  “They might scalp you Sami,” he told Sami in a quiet voice.  “They might take you, Hopper for lunch!” Annie told Hopper.

     Then as the Indians came closer to the spot on the crick close to Uncle Carl Poe’s cabin, the Indians talked in an excited voice and pointed at the cabin.

     The warrior leader pointed to the bank and had his henchmen pull up the canoe there.  The Indian hunters had gotten out to investigate the site.

     One of the Indians disappeared from view and before they knew it a tall Indian with a painted face was pointing his bow and arrow at the group.

     “Stayum here!” the Indian demanded.  But Annie and Andy had magically disappeared. 

      The rest of the Indian band joined the guarder and they all beheld the little girl Sami and her bear cub. 

     The leader of the warriors had a great grin on his face as he took out a skinning knife and walked towards Sami.  With one hand on the drawn knife and the other grasping Sami’s hair, he ordered his men to hold the little girl.  He was going to add a scalp to his belt.

      But just as he was going to do so, there appeared other players.

      From out of the nearby hole, a huge giant emerged holding a giant trade axe.  She had long red hair that fell from her head and on her face was a scowl.  “This is all wrong! This is all wrong!” she was saying. She began swinging the axe.  The wind from this knocked down a nearby tree.

     Then she looked at the little knot of Indians.

     “What do we have here!” the giantess roared. She looked around the scene and then gazed at the Indians one at a time swinging her ax with each change of gaze.

     And right about then another creature emerged from the hole. It was a man in a suit of shining armor holding a silver sword that flashed in the light.

     He lifted up his visor and spat out tobacco. 

     These two walked toward the Indians as they held their captives.

     “Are you sure you want to mess with that little girl’s scalp?” one of the Indian party said to the hunting party leader. “She is too small to have much of a head of hair for your belt.”

     Another one said, “How about we let this one go and find a scalp that doesn’t have friends.

     But the hunting leader was still adamant. He had not yet seen the approaching doom. “Yes, I want um scalp.  Every little bit helps make me be a big man.”

     But then the Indian saw the giant girl with the axe and the knight in shining armor with the flaming sword. When he saw these two moving toward him he dropped not only his knife but also his drawers.

     Before the giant and the knight could reach him, the leader of the Indians had changed his mind about where he wanted to be.  With a scared war whoop he pulled up his leggings and backed away and it was not much later that all the invaders were in their canoe and heading back downstream.

      “You scalpers better git,” the knight shouted after them.  “I’m gittin ready to call my valiant steed Lancelot to ride after you into the sunset.”

      Then, just as suddenly as the two mighty protectors had appeared they disappeared and Annie and Andy were back by their sides.

     “Thanks,” Sami and Hopper told their friends as they resumed being Annie and Andy.  Then they played awhile.

     When Uncle Carl Poe got back to the cabin with a turkey for dinner, Sami tried to tell him about the Indians but Uncle Carl Poe just laughed.  “No, Sami, there aren’t Indians around here.  They are down at their village.”

     “Sure!”  Sami said to her.  “You just think that if you want to.  I’m the one that almost lost my hair!”

      The next day when Hopper went down to get them to play again, he found that the hole had moved somewhere else.  Try as hard as he could, he never found it again.  Maybe you will find it if you walk up and down the Brandywine.

 

THE WILD MAN OF THE WOODS

 

     Several nights Sami heard wild noises in the night outside her log cabin.

 

     She was so flustered that she climbed over to Uncle Carl Poe and said to him, “Give me an arm.”  This meant that she wished to sleep in the  arm and close to his elbow. Outside the earth colors were purple and gold and ivory.

     The next night Sami had trouble sleeping. She kept hearing screams outside and snapping of limbs of small trees and bushes.  It was like someone was crashing through the woods.

     Hopper didn’t have the same trouble. He was sleeping like a log jam full of tent caterpillars from a nearby black cherry tree.  It was June and Hopper had found the best tree.  It was the best tree not because of its fruit which wasn’t ripe yet but because it was full of the juiciest and super abundant tent caterpillars that were on it. These little two inch black caterpillars are not only beautiful to look at with their white stripe down the back and blue spots and yellowish stripes. They were also delicious.   Tent caterpillars, as every bear knows, are really an early life stage of forest moths but they emerge in enormous numbers and a scope of them satisfied Hopper’s every craving. 

     While Hopper was full of doze, his companion was not. She kept hearing noises outside the log cabin.

     Something was outside and throwing rocks at the cabin.

     One night when Sami grew more courageous, she decided to investigate the sound.

     The night on this June the 4th was very clear.  There were no clouds to impede vision and in fact there was a full moon almost overhead.

     Sami should have been able to see very well.  The fact is though that when she was looking around she did not expect to see what she saw.

      What she saw was a dark brown hairy shape of something that was almost human but a little bearish. The size was what was so notable.  This creature was huge, about ten foot tall, powerfully built and with a very thick chest. Its shoulders were broad and it was as round as a barrel. The creature had no neck and turned its body to look at Sami at the same time it turned the rest of its body. Its face was not covered with the coarse thick hair of the rest of the creature.  It was flat with wide nose and a chin that protruded out further than its nose.
     Sami thought this creature was Hopper out there and started to go to him.

     Then she observed the creature more closely.  It was definitely not Hopper.

     It was a Bigfoot. 

     As Sami watched, the Bigfoot went over to Uncle Carl Poe’s chicken coup and stole a chicken and ran back into woods.

     Just before he left, he threw more rocks at the cabin as if to say, “Get out of my forest.”

     Sami went back inside the cabin.  There was no point in trying to follow the creature.  It ran so quickly and gracefully that pursuit was pointless.

     The next morning however, Sami and Hopper decided to find out where this creature was living.

     Hopper saw indentations in the mud along the crick that were over a foot long. They follow tracks to find nest but no Bigfoot.

     The next day they took a chicken over to the nest and left it.

     That night they heard something outside and in the morning they found a wild turkey outside their cabin door with large tracks that led down a forest path.

     Uncle Carl Poe was not happy.  It seemed like too many of his chickens were showing up missing these days and he vowed to kill whatever was stealing them.
     “No, Uncle,” Sami begged.  “We can hatch out new chicks and look! the thief brought us a turkey as a replacement.”

     That night Sami and Hopper snuck out and went to Bigfoot.

     They found his nest in a depression in the bushes with sticks around it and the grass inside matted down.  Leaves were also swept away from the edges and into the matted grassy padding.  Overhead were a few wind fallen limbs.  Scat was on one of the edges.

     When Bigfoot saw Sami and Hopper at his nest home, he went over to it and lay down in it sobbing and crying. Then as Sami and Hopper watched, the Bigfoot picked up a stick and drew a picture in the dirt.  It was a stick figure of himself.  Beside it he outlined another stick figure carrying a child.  Then he drew another stick figure of a man holding a shotgun.  Finally he erased the stick figure of the woman and child.  All the while he was crying.  He looked over at Sami and thumped his heart.

     “Yes, I will be your child in my heart,” Sami said to him knowing he would not understand through the words and also thumping her chest.

     Then Bigfoot started tearing up the nest until it was scattered and disappeared.

     Some creatures like to be left alone.

     Sami and Hopper left as they saw Bigfoot disappear back into the forest. To Bigfoot, it was time to move on. Sometimes it is best to be alone.

STALKER

    

     Sheila grew up on a small farm outside South Reading, Massachusetts. She fell in love with a neighbor boy, Sipes, but his family would not let them see each other because they were only fourteen and sixteen respectively. Sipes met Sheila often as children do.  He was raising a bull calf from a motherless birth providing her milk in a cup each day and visiting his friend at the fence line between the farms.  In fact, when the father found the two talking at the fence row one day he was so enraged he grabbed the boy’s bull calf by the throat and held a knife to it and said to Sheila. “This is what will happen if you don’t leave.”

    “Don’t kill my little bull,” the boy begged his father.  Then he turned to Sheila and said, “You must leave Sheila.”

    “Not fast enough,” the father said and he cut the calf’s throat. The little calf looked first at his master and then at Sheila very sadly.  He had so looked forward to having his master and Sheila fall in love and the three of them start a family.  As his blood spewed out, the little bull’s spirit ascended into the sky. There the slain little bull grew into a great spirit bull.
     After the bull was slain, Sheila left the scene in terror and remained in her own home for almost a week without going out telling her parents she was sick.
     At the end of the week she returned to her two-room school on the town’s West Ward and tried to forget her distress.

     Sheila decided her pursuit of love would always be in vain but she could not stand to live her life without the hope of love so she continued to search for a boy.
     No matter how hard she tried she could not find a boy who would like her.
     Finally she moved to Boston with her family.

     Afternoons she would walk down to the trade shops.  There she would see their apprentices – some of them were fine young men who looked like they might head happy families - but none talked with her.

     She went to the wharfs where men were going on long ocean voyages where they would not see women for months. No sailor gave her a wink.    
   One man who seemed to pay attention to her actually confessed he was only interested in buying her molars for a spare set of dentures. But as she was considering selling them if he would only talk to her, he turned white in the face and quickly left.
    She decided she must leave Boston and her family arranged a governess position with a family in New York.

    Before going on to New York, she wrote an anonymous letter to the editor of the New York Columbian saying she would marry anyone without any preconditions and listed her future address.  She waited outside her home for callers but the callers when they saw her rushed away.
     As her teenaged years lingered on, Sheila couldn’t bring herself to forget trying to meet a boy. One young man said hello to her on a park bench in a remote section of Central Park where she had seen young men and women meeting each other.  She immediately sat down and the first thing she said was “I will do whatever you want if you will sit with me.”  The handsome young man blanched and looking in her direction said, “The only thing I want is for you to be out of my sight.”  When she refused he ran away terrified.

     Surely there was a place where she could find a husband.

      She decided to travel to Paris where men were more romantic. She tried to forget every rejection and that part was easy.  It was knowing her expectation of a husband was escaping her that was so hard to live with.  It drove her on and on. The rejections were snow piles that melted season to season. She tried to remember how success would allow her to forget every disappointment.  When she was loved she would forgive all her failures. So she kept at it.

      She could not find a single man in Paris who would consider her romantically. Now in her early twenties, she found herself growing bitter at the pill of a life she was forced to swallow. Her mind was hurt, hurt, hurt. All of the rejection was breaking her into pieces. Rejection drove her. Rejection fed her.  Rejection ended every story. Her life was slipping away and she gave up on Paris and moved to London. 
     By this time, she began more actively trying to give her heart away.  Unfortunately every gift was thrown back at her until her heart had more callouses than the palms and soles of a homeless beggar. Her heart might be compared to a corn.  It got so she would blow out an “I love you” in the wind at almost every unaccompanied man she saw, but the wind always carried the words in the opposite direction smelling like farts.

      Then, giving up on the entire manhood of England, she set sail back to New York on a full masted ship.  She spent much of her time on the voyage holding on to the masts to keep from feeling dizzy about what lay ahead.

    After a while she gave up her search and decided there was only one thing to do and that was to become a lawyer. She would sue in the Courts any man who gave her even the slightest indication he would live with her. In this she was successful after graduating from Yale Law School where she concealed her sex. Even as a lawyer no one wanted to be around her and to practice her profession she concluded that the only grass that would be halfway green would be in a place where there were no lawyers to compete with. She moved to Corydon Indiana. Several Indians hired her to be their lawyer but would agree to consultations only in the midst of a tribal counsel. She soon was on the Indiana Supreme Court where her/his opinions were universally rejected as making no sense. They did however make as much sense as the rest of the opinions so no one threw her off Indiana’s highest tribunal.
     But late at night, she would cast aside her ruse and take to the streets of the frontier state capital seeking after a man, any man. Men that would not run from a cougar, bounded away. She pinned money on her dress but no thief would approach her to steal it.

     She had searched every center of civilization and then some.  She had combed the inhabited places of America. Now she failed in the nation’s bounding interior.

     Her only chance was to go even further into the interior until she arrived at the New Purchase. Here was the very edge of civilization and there was no place to search for a man beyond this thin line between the human and the wild.

     Riding her horse for hours on end she finally came across the last log cabin in the New Purchase.  It was that of Uncle Carl Poe, 22 and unmarried. She surveiled his log cabin until she determined that he was in fact single.

     She must have this man’s love. If he would not marry her, then there was no other place to seek out a husband.

     As she surveiled Uncle Carl Poe’s cabin, she noticed he had others living with him.  There was a little girl, a bear and another man who Uncle Carl Poe was greeting.  This one fellow appeared strikingly familiar.

     She heard this other fellow saying, “I have searched for her ever since my father died.  I have followed her in town after town and country after country.”

     She saw Uncle Carl Poe rush into his log cabin with this visitor and close the door.

     Only Sami stayed outside.

     Sami went up to Sheila the minute she saw her. “Ma’am,” she said, “you can come closer. Can I help you with anything?”
     But then Hopper ran out in front of Sami and held her back from going to meet the woman more closely.
     Sami was going to run away but decided to ask the woman another question.

     “Why are you here to cause us danger?  Why are you so mean?”
     “I am not mean,” Sheila said. “Why do you say that?”
     “It is that Wild Bull that is following you with fire pouring out of its nostrils,” Sami said.

     No one had ever said such a thing to Sheila before.  All of this was new and frightening. She turned around and to her horror she observed the huge wild bull with fire flaring nostrils following her. This creature was horrible in power balancing itself in a blaze of dazzling smoke and flames, now red and now black. Its eyes were like rubies streaming out sight like a paralyzing energy. Its hoofs jabbed and darted out promising instant destruction and retribution. The very bulk of the thing was overwhelming. There would be nothing to stand in its way if it stampeded.
      Sheila was amazed.  Then Sheila was dumbfounded.  Then Sheila tried to understand what this wild bull could mean. Could this bull, ever behind her, have been the reason that no man would talk to her and feel emboldened enough to be around her? For the first time in her life she had a suspicion of why no man would wish to converse with her. Now she knew why her life had seemed over so many, many times.

     Sheila fell to the ground and great tears welled in her eyes.  For some reason, she could not bring herself to fear this spirit animal. It just seemed like her whole life’s frustration was falling on her with a weight greater than that of Mount Everest. It had been a Wild Bull who had kept every suitor away from her over the years.
     “Wait, maam,” Sami said.  I will go call my uncle.”
     Sami rushed into the house and returned with her uncle and the young man who had gone inside the log cabin with him.
     As Sheila and the young man approached each other in the presence of Uncle Carl Poe, the Wild Bull bowled out of the sky and as Sheila watched, it rushed toward them before coming to a halt and lifting its head in a great sad crying and bellowing.  As the great animal lifted its head a raging cut as from a sharp knife could be seen deep in its neck.

     All of this excitement conjured up a moment of recollection.  Sheila recognized the young suitor of her youth, Sipes, the boy from the neighboring farm.  He was now a fine looking young man who had exhausted himself over many years in seeking her out.

     Then while Sheila held on, the bull threw her on its back along with the young man and ascended into the sky and carried them away. It was much later that Uncle Carl Poe and Sami learned that Sheila and her boy had quietly married in Massachusetts following the death of his mean father.  The bull had kept the hope of their love alive up in the sky for the many years.

CAT AT THE DOOR

 

     Events sometime happen very oddly. The first part of June was over.

     Uncle Poe was happier than he had ever been. June got into his head with its pleasant weather and the company of Sami and Hopper. His face often broke out in smiles. Thoughts were returning him to England in happy fantasies.  There he was with his youthful family again. How often in the summers, he and his brother William matched cricket or boxed their bodies into sweats and even bruises together or walked out to their cousin’s home, arms swinging freely and heads held high.  There was work to do and there were leisure times when wood was in the kitchen and chores were done.  There at home or elsewhere was the time for the romps on the lawn with the cousins Clarence and Peter and the games of knuckle down and stepping through your own fingers and the heading for the groves where the climbs were up mountains and into the clouds instead of trees. Then came the call for dinner with his mother’s prized jellies and marmalades. There were so many pleasant memories.
     As for Sami and Hopper, they too had their own memories together.
     Another memory pended.  Sami heard a knock at the door and when she opened it she found two guests there.

     The first was a cowering huge cougar cub. His furry baby face was what was so compelling. The cat’s expression looked so sad and downcast.  The little round ears were bent over and folded down in a very dejected look and his long black flat nose shivered as if he were about to cry.  His black eyes were half closed and opening them to see Sami he could hardly concentrate.      

     The second guest introduced himself as “Sullivan.” He was standing beside the pitiful cougar. The face had skin so tightly stretched that the skull bones were popping out. Sullivan was in the form of a human being but he was black-cloaked and carrying a scythe in one hand.  Around his neck hung an hour glass. The sand in the hour glass was dropping from one bulb of the hour glass into the other with little sand remaining in the top one. The scythe blade of this second guest looked razor sharp and ready to cut as a harvester cuts a crop at harvest time.  

     The poor cougar cub opened her mouth to speak. “Could I have a meal? I have not eaten.” When the cat was begging for food, the first thing you noticed was that he didn't have any teeth.  Inside his white jaw fur up and down there was only the pink of gums and tongue. Immediately Sami fell in love with it in her heart and wanted to keep it. The cute thing must have been a weaning tawny cougar baby all left alone because it looked like it was so hungry. It was a boy and about two foot tall and must have weighed about 120 pounds and it looked to be about 5 feet long with a tail half that again.

     "Hopper, Uncle Carl Poe," Sami called.  "You must come see who is at our door!"

     Hopper immediately came over and rose onto his haunches as if he wanted to get a good smell of these creatures as well as be ready with paws upraised to make a whack if things got out of hand.

     When Uncle Carl Poe came over he threw his hands in the air, yelled bloody murder and went for Longun to put a quick end to the visitors. His pleasant thoughts of June and his boyhood ended fast.

     The poor little cougar sensed all this defensiveness and lay down on his back and raised its paws over its face. Then it was that you could see its paws had no claws. Sami immediately noticed how this cat had neither teeth nor claws. How could she be of any danger?

     "Oh, you poor thing," Sami said.       
     Sullivan rattled the chain holding the cougar cub.

     Just as Uncle Carl Poe was drawing Sami back in the log cabin to close the door, the cougar jumped back up and said,    "Please, Sami, don’t shut me out of your comfortable home. I am so hungry. My brother and sister kittens - all three of them- are traveling with Mama, but she won't let me join them because she says there is no use to it since I can't bite anything on the back of the neck like she has taught us to do when we are hunting." 

     The poor thing was quivering.

     "Every time I jump on the back of a deer all I can do is gum her at her neck and she lets me ride all I want because she thinks I am just showing affection. Mama told me she was going to set me out and give me a territory like the others have but the only territory she pointed out for me was your home.  Since I trust momma to steer me right I guess she wanted me to come see you, Sami.  The whole wood knows about you."  

     “Of course I will get you something,” Sami said.

     Sami brought back out chunks of venison and a knife and began cutting them up into bites because the cougar could not chew but only swallow.
     With every bite that the cougar took Sullivan disappeared more and more.
     Hopper brought out the water bucket and went to the well for water.

     Until he had totally disappeared, Sullivan simply looked upon the events and said nothing.
     At the conclusion of the meal, the cougar arose.
     He removed his skin.

      In front of Sami and Hopper and Uncle Carl Poe was a handsome man.

     “I was hungry and you fed me,” he said.  He reached up into the sky and pulled down a crown of stars and place it upon his head.
     “I was not of your kind, and you did not send me away,” he said. He pulled from the air colors and wrapped himself in them as a gown.
      “I was rejected and you treated me with love and respect,” he said. He snapped his fingers and the earth pushed up around his feet and shod him in golden slippers.

      “I am the ruler over death,” the man said. “Those who fail my test are given to Sullivan who I brought along with a chain to do my bidding. His scythe has cut down many in America but you will be among those of a better harvest.

     “Prosper,” the man said and then returned to the forest.             

     After they left, Uncle Carl Poe closed the door and wiped his brow.

     “Do you know who that was?” he said to Sami.

     “No,” Sami said.

      “Sullivan was death and I thought he was preparing to take the life of the cougar because the cougar was starving.”

     “Was he?”
     “No,” Uncle Carl Poe said.  “If we had not given comfort to that humble creature of the forest, I am afraid that Sullivan would have been here for us.”

TROUBLE IN THE CABIN

 

     As the bear grew older and bigger, Uncle Carl Poe was having second thoughts about
keeping Hopper inside the cabin. It was becoming hard to hang the dry venison high
enough on the cabin wall to keep Hopper from it.  Once Uncle Carl Poe found turkey
eggs and before they could be cooked on a flat stone over the fireplace they got smashed
by furry paw. Uncle Carl Poe was losing patience.
     Then too, the buckskin had a habit of disappearing.     Hopper was seen carrying one of the leather shoes Uncle Carl Poe had made for Sami off to a corner to shred.
     “Hey, you,” Uncle Carl Poe once had to call out to Hopper. “Don’t you know every little girl has to have two shoes?”  “Now, where’s the other’n?”
     Hopper especially loved to get into the food supplies.  He got his nose into everything.  When either of the two got into something, it got so that Uncle Carl Poe would sweep at them with a broomstick and sweep them out of the cabin.  Soon their little nose or snoot would appear on the doorway with a knock.
      If Uncle Carl Poe came to the door with a sour look, the two would scamper away again, the little girl screaming with sorrow and the growing cub yelping as though he were nearly killed. Inside or out they became perfect companions.  They were as much at home in the woods as in the cabin and they would play with each other like a pair of frisky kittens, rolling over and over on the sod, pretending to fight and whining and growling as they were angry enough to whip a wildcat.
     One day when Hopper was feeling especially spunky, he picked up the oil lamp on the hearth of Uncle Carl Poe’s home.  The lantern was a great glass lamp with a shiny chimney. The lamp was one of the most special things in the home. It provided the light for the cabin when the dark nights fell.  At its base was a reservoir for the expensive camphene oil used to fuel it.
     The cub drew the lantern to his face and then began to carry it around the cabin.
     Not until the little bear had climbed onto Sami’s bed did Uncle Carl Poe see him.
     Suddenly all the memories of his brother’s cabin burning came to Uncle Carl Poe and he rushed over to take it away from the bear.
     Hopper thought this was some sort of play and huffed away.
     Soon the two were in a game of fiddlesticks.
     The two finally tangled near the fireplace with Uncle Carl Poe retrieving the lantern just as it was let go by the playful bear.
     “That’s it!” said the frustrated pioneer.  “You are out of here!”
     With that the bear found himself scooted out of the cabin by the broomstick with a great big whack on his rump to complete the message.

     Sami was in tears to see Hopper treated that way and she went outside to look for him, but he was nowhere close. She went looking for him in the woods about the same time that Hopper then went to look for her. Hopper decided to scamper about in the woods a bit and see if he could find her.

RASPBERRY PICKING WEATHER

     Blue River was only a few miles away from the little home of Sami and Hopper but it was worlds away in activity. 

     There was a settlement of Indians of the Miami tribe.  Mostly women lived here.  Some of the men preferred to stay at the little hunting camp site where only warriors were allowed.

     But here at the tribal village were the small rounded wigwams where the Indians called home.  The place was on a grassy knoll that overlooked the winding Blue River.  To reach the river from here you would take a path that was pounded into the earth that descended through sassafras trees and eventually reached the level of ground where the river waters could be found.  In the late summer the path was sweet smelling and beautifully blossomed from the masses of wild roses and honeysuckle vines that hid the trunks of the trees,  

     On the bluff where the wigwams were there was always the shade of the forest trees.  In the summer they provided a massive umbrella of leaves to shade the spot as much as possible.  But there was not a whole lot of protection from any old weather pattern that struck.  The wigwams were mostly reed ones with the tops wove together.  Reeds kept out the rain and layers of the reed mats sometimes covered the roofs of the wigwams when rain was expected. 

     Inside the wigwams were fire holes where the Indian squaws did their cooking and where a larger fire was built in the winter months to keep out the cold.

     The place was busy with children scurrying about and women moving around and horses neighing and the bustle of people actively engaged in daily activities.

    Outside around the homes were patches of grass mostly worn down and few with their heavy heads of tiny seed bells and plantain and woods weeds.

     A child pulled down a strand of the honeysuckle growing around the base of one of the boundary sugar trees of the camp.  It smelled so sweet, the orange ones as well as the yellow blossoms.  The summer had come and there was time for games and frivolity.

     But not for the whole day.

     Today was a day for raspberry hunting.

     The air was warm early on, the soft sounds of the forest paths to the raspberry thickets were inviting and the women had been chattering about undertaking the enterprise for many days.   
      It was definitely black raspberry picking time.  It was mid summer in the forest. There were large patches of wild berries in the Hoosier woods on the other side of the Brandywine Crick about a half hour’s walk from the cabin.  Raspberries are great opportunists.  Once a little patch of land has a start, raspberry suckers seem to fly underground this way and that where they develop roots and pretty soon a huge thicket of raspberries appears.     
     Raspberry plants have thorns on them too and once they have taken over a place there aren’t many challengers to their victory.

     The berries grow ripe and sweet starting in June of the year and they love to get picked off their receptacles.  Each raspberry fruit has about a hundred flavor packets each with a central seed in it over a hollow core.  Every bush can produce a hundred berries.

Mom black raspberry plant has lots of babies and loves to see them grow up and get going! That is a lot of cry babies for anything to have to deal with.

     Now it was time to go pick some raspberries.
     Uncle Carl Poe had made a large canoe out of a gum log and kept it at the crick not far away from the house. He didn’t travel in it anywhere.  He just used it as his own personal ferry boat.  He used it to cross the Brandywine Crick and not get wet. Today was the day to get in it, cross the little waterway and soon be busy in the middle of black raspberries.  Uncle Carl Poe bundled up Sami and soon the two were gone off to pick at least a full deerskin full of them to make jam out of,
     Hopper could not go.  Little bears would eat themselves silly if they had too many berries to choke on.

     Hopper was put into his special inside den made for him. After his summer bout with the bear hunters, Uncle Carl Poe and Sami were too afraid to have him wander off very far.  He whined and howled complaints until Uncle Carl Poe and Sami were out of sight.  Then he decided he needed to get out of the den and go see what was up.

     The black raspberry season was not just one noted by Uncle Carl Poe.  The people of the Miami tribe further down the parallel Nameless Crick were also on the lookout for the delicious berries. This particular patch had been a favorite of theirs for many years.

      Indians in Indiana?  Duh! Yes, indeed.  These folks had been scratching out a living for many years.  They lived in their own little village several miles away and usually kept to themselves. 

     Miami war chief had been put down.  "Aya" in Miami means "hello."  Miami children had dolls made from corn husks. They kept them in their small oval houses with walls of woven reeds. Miami men wore breechcloths.  They never wore long pants.  Miami women wore skirts with leggings.  The women also wore their hair long and sometimes braided it or tied it in a bun.  Miami men shaved their heads or braided their hair with porcupine quills.  They were often tattooed and wore leggings made from buckskin or soft leather.  The legs were not connected and the same belt was used to tie leggings as to secure the breechcloth around the waist. The leggings attached at the hips and not at the waist.  Boys wore long braided hair that they brought over their shoulders.    Garters around the knees kept them in place.  Sometimes the breechcloth was called a flap.  Garters were worn below the knees.  The seam on the leggings was in front with its opening at the foot level.

     They traveled through the woods from time to time looking for food in just about the same way that Uncle Carl Poe did.  They enjoyed black raspberries from the big patches of them just the same.
     When two of their mitemohsa got to the same clearing, the Indians saw that they were not alone. The women went to tell their braves that their berries were getting picked by another hand.
     Some braves came back with the women to see Uncle Carl Poe busy picking the berries. One of the Indians took up a warning cry screaming “Neekalaaci waapi ! Neekalaaci!” and walked over to Uncle Carl Poe with tomahawk in hand.  It was like the alenia was saying that this is an Indian berry patch. The Miami language was not clear to Uncle Carl Poe and so whatever words came out were left unheeded.
     Uncle Carl Poe simply tried to ignore him. He felt there were berries enough for everyone. The longer Uncle Carl Poe stayed his ground and kept picking, the angrier the Indians became and soon they raised their cries as well as their tomahawks and started for Uncle Carl Poe.
     “Run, run,” Uncle Carl Poe yelled at Sami.  Sami had been beside her uncle helping him gather the fruit. Then Uncle Carl Poe threw at the Indians the lunch he had brought with them, bread, a piece of cold venison and a few strips of squirrel meat while he dashed away to get his gun at the edge of the patch. 

     “Neekalaaci!”

     That began a race toward his gun which was by Uncle Carl Poe’s coonskin cap.  Uncle Carl Poe had the head start and so he was fairly near the gun when the Indians realized what he was up to. They did not have the gun weapon but they knew very well the death that it could deal. They did not know that Uncle Carl Poe only intended to scare the two interveners away with a warning shot into the air.
     Sami took off at his command.  She was good at hiding. 
     Nearby the little girl saw a sycamore tree.  That would be the best hiding place of all.  She loved to play hide and seek in the sycamore trees near the Brandywine Crick at the cabin. When she reached the tree and went around it to hide upon the opposite side, she found it was hollow at the root.
     This tree was not far away from where Uncle Carl Poe was now in a furious shouting match with wampooing Indians.
     Then came a shriek from the little girl like she had never uttered before.  Sami was so frightened that she could not move.  Sami had started to enter the hollow of the tree when a big black nose was thrust in her face. She was taken aback before an enormous bear which was emerging from the opening.  The bear started slowly toward the five year old.  Sami was unable to stir.
     Later she said she felt like she might just as well lie down and let the bear eat her because she knew she could not get away.
     Uncle Carl Poe could not get away from his own predicament to come help. Giving the Indians his back might mean he would feel a tomahawk in it.
     Then it was that another actor came upon the scene.
     It was Hopper.  The cub had followed the scent of his playmate and scampered across a fallen tree to cross the crick and reach her.
     Hopper was no match for a huge bear but he was such a surprise to see going to stand between his friend Sami and the bear that the bear stood on his haunches and shook his head aback as if to say, “Who are you,” or “Why you getting in my way?”
     Just then, Uncle Carl Poe looked over to see the girl standing frozen by the side of the hollow tree and the bear standing upright with huge paws that could strike at any time.  He also the saw the little bear cub up on his haunches too preparing to swat the much bigger bear with his much less impressive paws. Uncle Carl Poe yelled, “Run, Sami, run.  Run for your life.”
     But Sami knew no place to run to except back to her Uncle Carl Poe.
     The little bear was an obstacle for his huge brother and this gave Sami enough of a moment to gather herself together and go into action.
     Again, Uncle Carl Poe shouted, “Run, Sami Run.”
     So Sami did.  At this renewed command, Sami took off toward Uncle Carl Poe even though he was in a deadly situation himself.
     When Sami backtracked, so did Hopper.  They were joined by the huge bear.  The monster kept right on after the two and when Hopper and Sami kept running faster and faster toward the black raspberry patch so did the huge bear.
     By the time the two arrived at Uncle Carl Poe, the bear was right behind growling and puffing at their heels.  Sami and Hopper could not have run any faster if they had had wings and could fly.  They had never fun so fast in all their lives.  Sami knew that a swat from the bear’s paws would lay them flat.  They ran right on into the black berry patch with such a rush that before they knew it the bear landed right on top of the Indians and Uncle Carl Poe who were knotted in a fight to hold off Uncle Carl Poe from reaching for his gun and putting an end to the whole confrontation.
      That is when the time arrived that the Indians had another thought which was to try to save themselves from the bear.
      The Indians extricated themselves fast from their fight with Uncle Carl Poe and kicked the bear in the side as hard as they could.  This made the bear as mad as if hornets were zooming around its nose.
     When the Indians took off at the run, so did the bear go after them.
     Soon the growls of the bear became indistinct and then ceased. 

     All of this left Uncle Carl Poe, Sami and Hopper safe and sound.
     There would be other times for black raspberry picking Uncle Carl Poe decided.  The threesome headed back toward their log cabin even farther out of harm’s way.  Uncle Carl Poe decided the next time he went black raspberry picking he would take his dogs with him to have more warning of danger. Then he tried to think of how he could have gotten along better with his native American neighbors. Mother Nature was working as hard as she could to provide a bounty for all.
     When Uncle Carl Poe saw how Hopper had broken out of his cage to go in search of Sami, he did not care a bit. Hopper had saved their lives.

          Even the bear was happy at the turn of events. The giant bear eventually went back to Hopper's house.  He was fatter than ever.   He said, "Those stupid Indians think I am some kind of bear god and now all I need to do is mosey down to their village and I get whatever I want. They throw all kinds of good food my way. They have even started dancing around me.  They claim I can bring back the ghosts of their ancestors.  What do I know?" the old bear explained.

     "I do owe it you. You were the one who had me chase those Indians back to their village with them throwing food at me all the way.  The best chase I ever did."  The old bear rubbed his belly.  

 

THE CRAZY LOOMER

 

     There was one time when Sami had gotten lost in the woods.  Maybe Hopper was at fault because he kept hopping out into the woods further and further away. Of course Sami followed him. Children seek out their friends. Uncle Carl Poe had gone off to band a few trees on the perimeter of small garden clearing and didn’t know his children had taken off so far into the woods.

     As the morning progressed into late morning, the two had disappeared several miles from their log home and Sami was more lost than Hopper was.

     And then to make matters worse, Hopper loped out of sight.  Sami was left to her own devices and was quite unfamiliar with her surroundings.  She called out for her friend from time to time but the only return came from a bird whistling “Old Bob White.” She continued to wander about and then came across a log home that she had never seen before.

      How could anyone know that a crazy loomer, Dame Massa, lived in a cabin through the woods to the north and then west and then along a six mile crick that disappeared into the earth!

     This woman still occupied the cabin built by her husband before his death the year before.    

     No one knew of her except the trader at the Indian trading post where all the settlers as well as the Indians took their skins and trading items. 

     This woman, Dame Massa, made her living by bringing to this store the most strikingly colored fabrics. All admired the richness of the colors on her linens. They could not be matched by any weaver anywhere on the face of the earth. She dyed her linens with the most luxuriant greens and the heavy somnolent shades of violet.  Yellows were as bright as canaries and blacks like the deepest night. The yarrow plant gave her yellow. A bark gave her purple. Grasshoppers gave her green. She could comb the woods and find every color but red.       
     If she only had red! This color was the one she loved the most.

     Sometimes she would simply sit and dream about things that were red like strawberries and cherries and apples and roses and lady bugs and red ants and cardinal birds and raspberries and maple leaves in the fall and mouse and rat eyes and rainbows and the sunset and fire.
     How she wished that she could borrow even a slight tint of the most regal of colors.

     But though she tried out every possible source to find a red to dye for her linens she failed over and over.

     Now as the summer was coming on, Dame Massa had a great and phobic wish.

     There was one possible source for red dye that she had not tried. 
     It was the red blood of a child.

     She had everything else she needed for her perfect fabric. The material was at hand. The flax plant provided her with fibers for linen. Her garden was filled with flax. Every year she broke off the seed balls on the end of her flax straw for the next year’s crop before cutting off the stems to extract the flax “hair.” Then she would spin the hair to make threads on her spinning wheel before looming them into cloth.

     Then it was time to dye her cloth. What made the whole process so worthwhile were the colorful products.  Unfortunately she lacked one of the rainbow colors, namely the color red.

     Dame Massa was determined to find a red to have for her linens. She was willing to try anything and sacrifice anything. Red! Red! The color fixated her thinking. She tried to forget about her lack of red but it was all she could think of.  She thought so hard and her mind raced so fast that she lost reason in her insane desire for the color red.

     The one thing she had not tried was a child’s human blood.

     What she wanted to try the most was the dark red tint of a child’s blood. The fact that she was dealing with human life meant absolutely nothing to her.

     But where would she find a child?

     Up ahead was a log home and Sami went to it and knocked.

     It was Sami at the door.  “Have you seen a small bear in these parts?” Sami asked.

     The crazy loomer’s eyes opened wide as she observed the young girl who had so happily appeared at her door just at the time when she found herself the most in need of a dark red dye.

     “Yes, come in my dear,” Dame Massa said.

     “Let me fix you a bite to eat.  You look like you have travelled a long way.”

     “I have, the child said and my Uncle doesn’t know where I am.”

     “Oh, is that so,” the old woman said.

     The little girl went over the table in front of the hearth.  Dame Massa brought her some dinner in a large bowl. Then Dame Massa went to find her favorite knife.

      When she walked over to the child and Sami saw the knife she asked, “Are you going to kill me?”

     “Yes,” the woman said, “I need your blood to make my red dye.   Die for dye.”

      But just as Dame Massa leaned over to sink her knife into Sami’s chest, the pearl in the necklace around Sami’s neck began to glow and shine brightly.

      As it continued to grow in size, it flew off of its necklace.  Never since Sami’s mother had placed it around her neck had Sami suspected that this pearl might be able to enlarge itself or take on such proportion.

     Soon the pearl was of the size of a person and the glittering bauble opened and out stepped a beautiful woman.

     She was wearing a black robe and had in one hand a gavel and in another hand a wand. 

      She first waved the wand at Dame Massa and the terrified woman at once dropped her knife.

     Then True Justice caused Dame Massa’s cottage to be transformed into a courtroom as the beautiful lady took her seat behind a bench.

     The beautiful lady then proceeded to the trial of the woman.

     A bailiff appeared and handcuffed Dame Massa and settled her into one of the two tables in front of the judge’s bench.  Dame Mass was crying inconsolably at being brought to justice over something so obvious as the need for a red dye.

     Meanwhile counsel were selected.

     As Hopper had come upon the scene, he was tapped with the role of Prosecutor and he sat down behind the State’s table donning a black robe and preparing his opening statement.

     Up from hell came Beelzebub to defend this woman’s behavior. He was laughing so hard that the judge had to rap the gavel and order him to come to order.

     For a jury, the beautiful woman looked about Dame Massa’s cottage.  She noticed the barrels of the dyes by Dame Massa’s loom and called them up.

     She selected the dyes to act as jurors. Up from her jars of dyes arose the colors and they marched into a jury box and took an oath to well and truly hear all the evidence and to come up with a fair verdict.

     Then the jury was instructed as to the charges of child cruelty and attempted murder of Sami.

     Hopper laid out the facts before the jury, Beelzebub waived opening and Hopper called Dame Massa as his first witness.  She admitted trying to kill Sami for her blood to use it to obtain a red for her linens.

     Hopper rested his case and after a short deliberation, Dame Massa was found guilty as charged of cruelty to children and attempted murder.

     Beelzebub offered no evidence and indicated he was satisfied that his client was truly guilty and he asked to be relieved to return back to hell.

     The Court accepted the verdict.

     True justice ordered that Dame Massa be brought in front of her.

     “Massa,” the judge said, “you have heard the verdict of the jury. Your conduct toward children was intolerable. The legal system finds you culpable as a danger to children and murderer. Henceforth you shall not be trusted with linens or colors or dyes. Nor can you be trusted to be a Hoosier.” Then she waved her wand.

     While the woman watched in terror she saw her hands and feet turn into multiple insect appendages. Then her body was compressed into an oval segmented one with white waxy plates that grew increasingly smaller and smaller. From her head sprouted antennae and she assumed the form that are now known as cochineal bugs.

     When she opened her buggy eyes, Dame Massa found herself imprisoned on a cactus plant in a faraway desert where she and the beetles that follow her remain imprisoned.

     The Indians of the region prey on these insects, scratching them off the cacti, collecting them and crushing their scaly bodies to produce red dye.

 

 

JULY CHRISTMAS

 

     “What’s your name?” Sami asked a broken down looking fellow walking down the almost dry creek bed of Brandywine Crick one day in July. The heat of this hottest of months in Indiana had taken its toll and the once bounding spring crick was now mostly dried out cracking dirt and a string of pools of very muddy shallow and polluted looking water.

     “I’m Johnny,” the old man said. Sometimes people called him Johnny Appleseed.

      He was the strangest looking character! His skin was weather beaten and dry. He looked like a derelict home walking along barefooted with a kettle on his head. He wore a coffee sack with holes cut out for his arms and legs and carried a rifle, tomahawk and knife. He was walking down the dry portion of the crick. He sidestepped the pools of water with their lazy eddies and racing water bugs. Behind him came a horse over stepping and lame trying to keep up. On the horse were cloth bags containing apple seeds.  A shovel was also roped on the horse.

     “What is yours?” the man said.

     “Sami.”

     “Would you like to walk with me?” he asked as he pulled himself back onto the trail.  His voice was pitched high and thin. His voice echoed through the silent and desiccated forest.

     “Yes.”  

     After a minute she asked him, “Why aren’t you riding your horse?”
     “Because it is cruel,” Johnny Appleseed responded. 

     “Why is that?” Sami asked.

     “For the same reason it is cruel to chop down a tree or kill a snake. See the apples in the bag on him?”
     “Yes,” Sami said. “Well I had to trade a whole bucket of them to an Indian for that horse.  He was lame so they were going to kill him.”
     Hopper came running up to join them.

     “Who is your friend?” Johnny Appleseed asked Sami.

     “His name is Hopper.”
     “Are you his mother?”

     “No, he is just my friend,” Sami replied.

     It was then she noticed a bluebird following the man and circling him surreptitiously from time to time.
     “It is nice to have a friend, isn’t it,” Johnny Appleseed said.  “I had to leave my pet wolf back at my farm.  He was too sick to come on this trip.”

     “How did you know he was sick?” Sami asked.

     “He told me,” Johnny Appleseed said. “I talk to animals. But then you probably do too.”

     “No,” Sami said.  “I only talk to Hopper, my friend bear, and Uncle Carl Poe.  He is my uncle I am living with.”

     “What are you looking for?” Sami asked him.

     “A sunny spot to plant some trees,” Johnny Appleseed responded. “There, there,” he said.  He was looking at a sunny place close to Sami’s log cabin. Johnny Appleseed went to his horse and took down his shovel and a single seed and walked out of the crick bed over to a rise above Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin. While Sami watched, the man tried to dig into the soil but he could hardly scratch the surface.  The earth was so dry and brittle!

     Johnny shook his head sadly and returned the precious seed to his cloth sack.  Usually he could put a seed in a hole by a crick on a sunny place and expect it to germinate and arise to become a magnificent apple tree.  If he was planting a seed further from a crick he dropped two seeds in to make sure one of them would grow.

     Just then the bluebird landed on Sami’s shoulder and whispered in her ear. “Would you do me a favor?” the bird asked.  “I need you to keep this man occupied a few minutes while I make a report to Santa Claus.”

     Sami was very surprised to be accosted this way.  After all, she just told this man she could not talk to animals except her pet bear and now she was being addressed by a bluebird?  Nevertheless, Sami decided she would do as the bluebird asked.

     “Would you sit down with me for a minute?” Sami asked Johnny Appleseed.

     Johnny Appleseed set aside his shovel.  He was discouraged. The earth resisted him digging. He went back with Sami to the crick and took a seat on a big boulder.  He sighed. “No need to complain,” Johnny said after a bit. “The buzzards never seem to have anything and they just keep circling.”

     “Do you have a family?” Sami asked him.

     “No,” he said.  “I will not marry in this world.  I will in the next when I have more time to get to know somebody.”

      Sami looked around for the bluebird but he could not be seen.

      The bluebird had headed to the North Pole to see Santa Claus even though he knew he was strictly forbidden to bother Santa before the time of Christmas when days are short and dark nights long.

     To others, the North Pole is a place of boring white strange shapes and ominous flat shadows. But children all over the world know also that the North Pole shelters the workshops of Santa Claus.  It is a part of the boundless world hidden by the blare of snow that bluebirds can find with ease. Here is the home of Santa Claus, an elfish figure of a man with frosty hair. He had ruddy cheeks like the embers of a coal and a long beard.  He was seated by the hearth of a workshop where he was reviewing the lists of the needy and hurt and challenged and homeless and hungry ones of the world. His elves were in Santa’s workshop, as busy sounding as a bubbly spring crick, busy in a workshop  preparing clothing, toys, relief items and baskets of food.

     Santa listened intently when he heard about the troubles Johnny Appleseed was having. He was sorry to hear that the man was unable to pierce the dry hard July soil to plant apple seeds. Apparently the shovel that Santa gave him for the last Christmas was not sufficient.  Should Santa wait until another Christmas to give Johnny Appleseed another gift?  He decided that he should not wait even though it was summer.

      Santa Claus of course knew who Johnny Appleseed was. Johnny Appleseed had a very humble mission but it was filled with good intentions. Johnny wanted people to have apples to supplement their diets.  If the settlers ate apples they would be healthy. Apples are a wonderful fruit jam packed with nutrition. Their antioxidants promote good health and prevent diseases.  “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
      Soon Santa Claus rounded up his reindeer for a special flight off season into the Indiana woods. 

      When he arrived at Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin that night, he quickly summoned Sami and Hopper to his side and told them his plan.  Then he waved his wand and called together a special convocation of gophers.  As the gophers gathered, Santa Claus again waved his wand and the gophers were turned into helper elves for the sake of Christmas in July.

     “You will henceforth be my special troupe of gopher elves,” Santa told them.  “You must dig ahead of Johnny Appleseed on these hard digging days.”

     The gophers now endowed with speech promised Santa that they would and Santa Claus returned to the North Pole.

     The next morning, when Johnny Appleseed moved on ahead of him swarmed a troupe of gophers who dug into the earth so abundantly that Johnny Appleseed was amazed. “Why I will put a seed in these gopher holes,” Johnny said to himself and he did.

     The gophers did their elf work for as long as Johnny Appleseed wandered through Indiana, Illinois and Ohio and the western folk kept their health and welfare for ever so long.  

AN OLD FASHIONED BEAR HUNT

 

     Hopper stayed out much later than he intended one night and it became nightfall.  Even though he was in the log cabin, still the little bear’s mind went gallivanting about through the woods. The kettle was long off the fire, and still Hopper stayed up late.  He was in a wandering mood.  Curiosity took him over.
     Hopper heard of a new family building a log cabin through the stretch of woods he was heading into. At this new site was a little family up from Kentucky with several children and a neighbor boy just a little older than Sami.

     Uncle Carl Poe and Sami had gone over to visit when they heard this new family was moved in but Hopper did not get to go. Uncle Carl Poe put a strap around Hopper and tied him to a tree while they were away. “No reason for them to get to know my whole family at once,” Uncle Carl Poe said.  Then he dressed up by putting several strands of extra beads around his neck to add to his usual pouch and turtle shell.
     What Hopper did not know was that he too would be making a call on these new neighbors someday.

     Hopper now decided to make his own visit.
     When Hopper got to the log cabin he went to one of its windows and looked in.
     A shriek like he never heard was the response. 

     The next thing you know a little boy is looking out the window straight into Hopper’s eyes with each one trying to stare the other one down out of curiosity. The people in that strange new cabin did not see Hopper as a proper visitor.  They saw the nearly mature Hopper as a monster attacker threatening their lives.

      After that all Hopper heard were the words, “Bear! Bear!”

      But when he looked in the window again, he saw a man climbing out of his bed jay naked and running around the cabin looking for where he had left his gun. Then the door opened and a gun was stuck out and was waving around here and there. Then there was a shot that missed.
     Hopper did not want to stay around to visit any more.
     He quickly began to retrace his steps back home.
     The new neighbors did not want to leave it at that.  The man with the gun piled out of his cabin with his sons close behind and they took after the bear. One of them went to call nearby kin to help on a bear hunt.

     Now the hunt began.  The word was out.  A bear had attacked neighbors.

     How could Hopper have known that the people he had been so curious about were committed bear hunters?  Kentucky settlers were like that. So began as wild a bear chase.
     Nothing was more fun for the hunters of the pioneer woods than a bear chase.

     By the time Hopper was loose in the woods most of the other bears of the Brandywine were leaving or gone.  Yet the memory of a wild bear hunt was still fresh enough to the newer settlers coming up from Kentucky to bring out most of them.
     In the old days the bears were swine killers or worse.  There were stories of pioneer children victims.  Only the scream of the cougar in the night filled pioneer families with more fear than finding a pig chewed down to its bone.

      Hopper did not know about these things. When the neighbor came chasing him, Hopper did not know what to do except squeal in a desperate cry before woofing away toward home.      
     One of the other boys from this new neighbor’s cabin brought out their dogs. There is nothing more maddening to a chased bear than a dog or two. Hopper had taken chewings from Uncle Carl Poe’s dogs before they got used to him and Hopper knew to fear a dog’s fangs.

     It was not far from Sami’s cabin that Hopper heard the sound of dogs.  When the growl of the dogs struck his ears, he gave a snuff into the breeze and away he bounded back into the denser woods. Surely there would be a tangled rough close by.  Then he would not have to fear the hunting dogs or the guns of the hunter.       

     The dogs were quicker to find Hopper than he wished. As Hopper tried to hide behind a tree, they barked and lunged at him.  There was only one thing to do.  He must climb a tree. The dog’s barks hurt his ears and he looked frantically in the direction the dogs came from to see other hunters coming behind.  The log cabin of Uncle Carl Poe was back in the other direction and far away.

     Hopper had been bulking up all summer and Hopper was now over a hundred pounds in weight.  He could not be avoided. The problem was his fat kept him from running so fast.

     It was still a little dark.  One of the boys owning the dogs got closer and within view of him and his gun.  He sat down on a rock to try to wait out Hopper. But the sleeping rock was a pig that didn’t like getting set on and jumped up with a start and took off.

     The dogs were circling Hopper’s tree and sniffing his scent. 

     Then the first shot at him whistled by.

     Hopper did not wait for more shots.  Instead he bounded down the tree until he reached the ground and then briefly pressed the dogs with his slashing claws before making a run towards Brandywine Crick.  One of the neighbor boys got too close and took a scratch or two.

     The dogs were not deterred.  They not only had a fresh trail to follow but a confrontation in memory to avenge. Another bear had taken a toll on their friends. After Hopper they went with anxious cries and in a dash.

      The pursuit was on.

      At Brandywine Crick, Hopper splashed in.  He started woofing for help.  The hunters were close behind.  One of the men jumped into the crick and started after Hopper with gun to his shoulder.  The hunter had Hopper directly in his sight.

      Suddenly out of the crick came a huge beak.  It belonged to a snapping turtle.

     This beak was on nearly five hundred pounds worth of anger.

      Lady’s husband, an old snapping turtle, lifted his smiling deadly head out of the water and took a snap at the hunter.

      “Eeeeeeyowwwwwwwwww!” the chaser said when he saw the size of that sharp beak.  The mouth on that turtle was just about the size of his arm.

      “Don’t worry Hopper,” the snapper called out at the scampering cub,” I’ll take care of this guy.  And he did.  With another snap he had that hunter’s gun in his jaws and it snapped like a toothpick.

          The huge male turtle's name was Ograbme and it was payback time for Hopper

helping his wife, Lady, get away from being turtle soup. Ograbme had been a young

fellow that never stopped growing and topped the scales at about 500 pounds.


     The hunter desperately tried to grab ahold of the splashing monster turtle to push him

away but ended up grabbing the turtle by its tail.  That gets one all upset and nasty.  Its

mouth opens to about the size of an arm and its mouth claw is sharp enough to pull the

flesh off.


     The hunter was left scrambling back to the shoreline.

 

     Hopper still wasn’t safe.  Now came on new boys and men of the neighborhood riding

their horses. The hunters heeled their horses to pursue more quickly as the chase sped

over logs and bogs and brush and bush with leaps over splashing puddles and the hunters

shouting out their brisk “halloos.”


       Hopper knew he must make his getaway through the most tangled woods and avoid

the open spaces. In the deeper and darker areas of undergrowth many vines grew amid

banks of nettles and thorn patches.  Dogs shunned the sticky places.  Hopper went

through several of them trying to elude the eager pack. Unfortunately these deep places

were further and further away from the safety of Uncle Carl Poe’s cabin.

     With deep mouthed groans Hopper fled as speedily as the wind. 

 

     The short legged dogs and a half grown pup was left behind, but the older dogs could not be turned back.   They kept up their cries through the dips in the woods and mounds Hopper traveled.  The yelps of the slower dogs followed up the cries of the closer ones and the sounds of delight from the hunters filled the air. The best dogs were closing in.

     Hopper knew his end was near. 

     Sparkles was grazing nearby.  Sparkles didn’t like dogs. 

 

     When Sparkles saw Hopper close by she went over to see what was the matter and just

 

as quickly had one of the dogs flying through the air after receiving a horn in its tail

region.

 

     The other dogs tried to corner Sparkles but as Sparkles turned her horn tips flashed in

 

the sunlight.  Now she turned and went after the bear hunters.  The old girl was roused

 

and angry.  The   group didn’t dare shoot someone’s cow. A mile later the group panted

 

with all but one of them up a tree.  The one left was hiding in nettles and trying to keep

the pain down enough not to cry out.

 

     Sparkles meant business about leaving Hopper alone.

     But even so, Hopper wasn’t safe.  His strategy of making for the deep woods was a failure.  The dogs could follow and bring the pursuers too.  Behind him, Hopper could hear more pursuers coming on with dogs yipping and howling and the hunters on their horses breaking branches and those on foot calling out for their dogs to keep it close.

     He was getting further and further away from the clearing and the rising smoke from Sami’s log cabin.  Then too, he heard the sound of new dogs from there preparing to enter the bear hunt.

     Hopper felt like the end was inevitable and there was only one thought that entered his mind.  He must make a dash for home and tell Sami goodbye.

     So it was that the pursuit changed its course and Hopper retraced his steps to make a run to return to the log cabin of Uncle Carl Poe. 

     Hunters who had followed as they could through the deep woods now heard their dogs retracing the earlier routes.  The woods were in a great roar.  The fun was spreading everywhere.  They must enjoy it as they could because they were chasing down one of the last bears on the Brandywine. 

      As Hopper retraced his route to head toward Sami’s log cabin he suddenly confronted one of the hunters.  Before the man could raise his shotgun to aim, he found his horse turn from Hopper’s path and throw the hunter who landed on the ground with a thump.  Hopper did not stop to assess the man’s fall.  He was simply happy that he had dropped his gun.

    Hopper glanced back and his tired tongue lolled out in distress.  He was so tired.  Nevertheless he must not be forced from his track to bid farewell.
     The hunters were not stupid.  They realized the bear was backtracking so three of them decided on an ambush.

     The glade where they hoped to stop the bear’s rush was a glade near Sami’s log cabin.

     Hopper could see Sami’s log cabin on the other side of the glade and summoned all his energy to make the sweep across the glade.

      This path opened up danger.  Hopper was fully in the view of the hunters.  Their dogs were not impeded either.  All of the dogs that had lasted this long were newly energized when the saw the bear make his great mistake and enter the open glade.  They jumped out with renewed cries and speed to overtake Hopper.
     One of the dogs, faster than the rest, reached Hopper as he crossed the opening.  Hopper turned to gnarl at the pursuer and the dog slumped back from the wrathful bear.  But the slowing down enabled other dogs to reach the escaping bear.

      Just ahead was Sami’s cabin. In front of it, Hopper stopped.
      Now the dogs circled the bear.  They had their prize at bay.  The horsemen were coming at top speed with their guns now raised at the aim.

      One of the hunters called out in a scream, “Whoop!”

      Another screamed out at his dogs, “Take him, Bingo!”  “Seize him, Alemwa.”
     One of the dogs bolder than the rest lunged at Hopper to tear at him.
     Hopper was now too tired to run any further .  He wheeled about right and left with eyes of burning fire as the dogs lunged at him.  One took off an ear. 

     He heard one of the hunters yell, “The one who kills him gets the skin.” Another said the prize should go for the first drawing of blood.  This was the more usual prize.
     But all prizes were off.
     As the bear hunt had reached her log cabin, Sami was still riding her horse and had followed the commotion and when she got to the site, she saw Hopper’s danger and made a beeline for him.

     Sami was not about to allow harm to befall her pet.
     “Hopper, Hopper, HOP on!” Sami called out.
     Hopper heard the familiar command and got ready.
     “Hopper, Hopper, HOP on!” Sami called out again as she reached him and entered the deadly circle of dogs.  The pony dashed over a snarling hunting dog and braced to take his new rider.

     Hopper was frankly no longer much of a leaper.  He had simply grown too large for bounding about or springing up from the ground. His blocky body was filling up with the fat that summer’s season of fruits and nuts was providing. However, times were critical and a bear has to do what a bear has to do.
     In another instant the bear had jumped on behind Sami and yet another the voices of the hunters was yelling, “Hold fire, it’s a child.”  Or another said, “That darn fool kid has pulled that bear on behind her.”
     Sami made straight back for her safe cabin and Hopper held tightly to her the rest of the way.  At its door, Hopper and Sami got inside as fast as they could.
     Uncle Carl Poe was within and when he heard that his neighbors were outside with guns to shoot Hopper he went over to get Longun.

     “It’s about time, you and I go outside,” Longun told him. “We got a message to give them neighbors!”

     Holding his friend in his arms, Uncle Carl Poe lifted the latch and went out into the front yard.  He walked up to his trespassers and so did Longun.

     “Thar will be no huntin’ of our pet bear! Now git, all of you.” Uncle Carl Poe told them.  Then before the speechless neighbors could demand more of an accounting, Uncle Carl Poe and Longun went back inside.

 

THE LITTLE OLD MAN UP THE RICKETY STAIRS

 

      Another summer afternoon, the two kept trying to jump onto Uncle Carl Poe’s horse for a ride.

     Mindy didn’t like it for a minute.

     She didn’t want some black bear cub taking her reins and being in charge of her.

The only way Sami could mount her pony was to pull it to an old stump near the log cabin.  Sometimes she would jump on from a rail fence. But she did learn how to ride toddler style.

     Sami liked to ride her pony bareback.

     Then Hopper got the same idea and pretty soon he wanted to ride on Mindy too.
     Hopper was getting older now in the late summer.  A bear doesn’t like to stay little for long. Now Hopper’s face was lengthening and he was almost up to four foot and about half of that around the waist.  He and Sami could see eye to eye and were usually thinking thought to thought.

     Sami never told her Uncle Carl Poe but she sometimes rode her pony out into the woods with Hopper holding on to her from behind.  Hopper objected at first but then learned to love to ride with Sami with the wind blowing his fur about. Sami loved to go bump, bump, bump on her pony’s back. 
     Sometimes she would say, “Hopper, Hopper, HOP on!”  The bear would drop whatever he was doing and wait for Sami to ride by.  Then he would make his name proud and hop on her horse behind Sami.  It was a game they practiced over and over. The trick was for the bear cub not to claw his way onto the horse so that it would and neigh.

     Sami never rode very far away from her home because she didn’t want to worry Uncle Carl Poe.   

     But one day while they were riding they found a tree.

     There was a part of the woods where the ground was very dark and nothing happened there.  Little plants did not have a chance to grow up in the murky soaked spring soil without sunshine and the ground creatures chose brighter and happier places to scamper.

     None of this deterred Sami and Hopper from going there.

     They loved to explore every part of the forest and live in the lives of every woods creature even the slugs and flies.  After all, each had a story to tell didn't it?  Sometimes the two could pick up a bug and it would tell them about the juiciest flower it had been to that day or the terrible escape from danger from a nasty old bird trying to hop too close.

     But this day, the two were on their own.  There was hardly any life in this section of the forest for them to experience.

     What had drawn Sami to this place was Hopper’s report that strange new stones were being set in the forest.  They were large rocks and they had signs on them.

      When Sami asked Uncle Carl Poe what they could be he said, “Could be witness stones for some new neighbor moving in and setting his boundaries.”

     Off in the distance they did hear some chopping going on.

     Just as they were about to leave, they noticed a particular tree near a wet place.  This tree obviously had sent its roots into the richest soil in those parts, the grubbiest and slimiest kind of stuff with dead decomposed junk just waiting to give up its nutrients and the water was there to speed the sap up through its trunk and limbs.

      But what caught their eyes were the strange objects going about the tree and spiraling up its trunk.

      The tree would have been easy to miss even for its size except for these spirals. They were wooden slats at different heights and went from top to bottom.

     Hopper and Sami naturally went over to investigate.

     When they got close the spirals took on the shapes of rotting wooden stairs of the narrowest kind.  The stairs wound about the tree hugging it very close and appeared to have almost grown into the trunk as sometimes happens when some nail or other foreign object gets pounded into a tree and the tree simply encompasses and grows around it.

The strange stairs appeared to be like that.  This old mature tree looked like it had tried to grow the stairs into one or another of its many rings because it was very old. That job looked like it was a continuing effort and not all of the stairs had been encompassed. Part of the thing was left exposed although it was rotting very badly.

     The stairs did not look like it had been used for some time.  This wood had weathered away for many years.

     When Hopper saw how Sami was interested in it, he became interested to and started to shimmy up the tree skirting as much as he could the obstacles of the steps going up the trunk.

     When he had gone up a little way, Hopper look around the lower branches to make sure it was safe for Sami to come on up.

     There were always critters to be accounted for.  These were nasty cougars that liked this kind of lower reach of trees.  But Hopper didn't see anything except some bird nests and vines and things.

     Sami followed.  Her curiosity had gotten the better of her.  This sometimes happens when strange objects are seen.  They simply grab hold of your imagination.  What could be up there? What could be up there?  This kind of curiosity message reverberates in your mind sometimes and cause questions to have to be answered.  A tree with a grand stairway going about it up to high reaches is bound to require an answer.

     The first step[s were easy because the ones close to the ground were made out of thicker wood.

     As Sami climbed each step veered around the tree a little more and soon she had circled the tree and found herself at a higher point.  The only problem was that the steps were not holding her weight very well.  It was as if they had not been used for a very long time. After bearing Sami up some of the stairs simply disintegrated and dropped through the woods air falling away almost noiselessly before landing with a slight plop on the forest floor.

     This did not cause Sami to stop her climb.  She kept at it with her usual determination to experience every part of life she could.

     As she ascended higher and higher she began to sense that there was something looming up in the higher reaches of this tree.  But what could it be?

     She would have to find out because she had no choice.  The stairs was gone beneath her. Her only way was up.

     Hopper was of course by her side and in fact he climbed ahead of her most all of the way.  If there was anything dire, Hopper would have warned Sami. Hopper was always not just a companion but also a great point man for trouble.

     The two were reaching the top when they noticed that the stairs led to a small opening in the canopy of leaves and limbs up at its top.  The light of day could be seen pouring through very warmly and brightly. 

     That opening was just ahead and Hopper was the first to stick his head through and then wiggle through.  Hopper was not the adult bear that he would become and have trouble getting through a slight opening.  He was still small and agile and his body was still squeezable enough that he could worm into the hole at the top of the stairs and get through.

     Stairs always lead somewhere.  There has never ever been a stairway that didn’t go to another floor of some kind or another. Such was this stairway. 

     Sami poked her head through the opening at the top and then got her hands inside enough to pop herself on through the hole just as Hopper had done.

     Both of them were now into a high level floor of the same rotting thinner wood planks that the steps had been.

     Both of them look about eagerly to see what they could see.  But nothing appeared apparent at all.

     Then as suddenly as a wink, Sami saw what looked like a branch move.

     The branch was of a larger kind although it seemed to have the same texture and girth as any of the other larger limbs of the tree.

     This branch however began to move toward the two.

     As it did so, Sami observed that toward the top it had a face and two blinking eyes.

     Hopper was ready to swat this strange moving thing but Sami grabbed his paw and said,

    "Hold off, Hopper.  This creature may not be dangerous. Most plants are not."

    Hopper wasn't really convinced about that.  Some plants are very dangerous and if you touch them they give you poison ivy that will itch you forever.

     Then the moving tree limb spoke to them.

     "Please do not hurt me," the branch said.

     "I was once a man but I retreated up this tree many many years ago.  My name is Touloose, and I was born at Angers in the Loire valley of France.  I came here as a part of an expedition with my friend who had become the Sieur de La Salle. We had known each other through the Jesuit Order.  Robert and I were both young young recruits into the church. I joined his expedition to find China through these parts but as we passed through this country I got lost and to save myself I climbed up into this tree and made it my home.

     As the days passed, I found myself more and more safe and happy here in this place as you see it.”

    Having made this grand revelation Touloose joined with it a grand gesture extending his arms to encompass the full panoply of the scene.

    After a short time and several sighs, he continued, “I began not to want to go back down the tree and so I built a stairs so that I could do so and go up and down as a desired.  I would gather food and cook down below and then return to my loft. After days and days and many hours of meditation and prayer I found that I needn't go down the tree for sustenance but instead I would ask the tree itself to provide for me.

     I began to cling to this tree as if to a mother. As I clung to the tree its juices began to call to me with an offer of sustenance.  “We will offer you our sap,” the tree seemed to be saying to me. “It will be all you need to survive.”

     I began to wonder if I could live on my host’s great life. At first I removed the bark ever so gently and without harm to the tree and I began to suck on its juices and nutrients. Then I began cleaving to this tree entirely just as if I were a friendly vine.

    Clinging to this life as I did I eventually began to change into a branch although I was never able to sprout leaves.  I have lived here for at least a hundred years or maybe more and become the branch that I am."

     Touloose came closer and touched her.

     His hand was woody and like bark.

     Sami thanked him for allowing them into his home.  She always wished to be polite and as considerate of others as she could.

     “I do not have many guests,” Touloose said.  “I am sorry to say that all I can offer you is some sap. Would you have some?  I have a nice little spot over here in this year’s wood that gives me the most wonderfully delicious nectar.”

     Just then there was a little nip on Sami’s leg.

     “Hey something just bit me!” Sami yelled.  And when she looked down there was a twig with a jaw that had real teeth on them.  This twig started barking and barking.

     “Hey, Shep, leave that little girl alone,” Touloose demanded. With that Touloose hopped over to the twig and picked it up and petted him between his shoots.

     “This is my puppy Shep,” Touloose told Sami and Hopper.  “He came down with me from Montreal so many years ago and we haven’t been parted since. When he jumped off our canoe I went searching for him and got lost and that’s how I ended up here.  I don’t care. Shep and I are still together aren’t we?”

      Hopper scampered out from one side to the other over the matted limbs that formed kind of a wooden platform to observer the sight.  The overlook of the forest was a grand spectacle and very deliriously spectacular.  It would have been easy to simply stay there as Touloose had done and watched the change of the seasons and the day and night transforming the landscape minute by minute. The scene could have been addictive as a drug might have affected the system.  What some people will do for peace of mind!

     Sami too climbed carefully out from her initial tight hold on the tree trunk to observe the pan aroma from the platform high over the forest.

     She was having to hold on branch by branch because, well, she was not limb as Touloose was and she didn’t have the nice long sharp claws that her brother Hopper had.

     The view from the top of this tree revealed every reach of the forest.  Sami could see the land of the kingdom of bears and that of the haven of the deer and the slight ribbon made by the Brandywine Crick.  Over there she pointed.

     "I think that is where our home is" she said to Hopper with great excitement. Out toward the ribbon of crick running not too far away was a clearing with the little barn that looked so very familiar as being home.

     But as she looked from the heights of this tree, there were many other similar features, places with small patches of cleared trees and neat rows of crops appearing.  “My, oh my!” she thought.  “Could it be that one time there will not be a forest here?”  This was not a thought she liked to have.

     Then she heard the sound of axes again and not far away. 

     “Hopper, go see what is happening,” Sami told her friend. “But make sure you are not seen and come back as soon as you can.

      Over on the next rise, Hopper found a knob where a new family was moving in. The man of the home and some others, probably kin, were helping him to build a home of the logs they were chopping down.

     Then Hopper heard one of the men say, “We’ll collar the trees around here and have some fields for you too very soon.”

     Hopper returned to Sami and Touloose as quickly as he could.

     “Your tree is going to be collared,” Hopper told Touloose.

     “What’s that?”  the old Frenchman wanted to know.

      “It means they are going to cut through the bark around the base of the tree so the tree will not have sap going up from the ground.”

       “If that happens, then I will surely die!” Touloose said.

      “Would you trust us to take you a new tree near our home?” Sami asked.

     “Why yes,” the branch said.

     “Here Touloose,” Hopper told him and took him carefully into the grip of his bear’s jaws.  Touloose for his part clutched his little puppy Shep within his twigs.  Foot by for the three made their way down the tree.

     Now the problem was for Sami to get down the tree.  So many of the unused and ancient rickety stairs had been broken off when she had climbed up to the top of the tree.

      She decided to climb down limb at a time until she reached the ground rather than to rely on the rickety steps.

     When they were all down the tree and together, they began their trek back to the cabin of Uncle Carl Poe.

      Once close by, they surveyed the many crick trees along the banks of the Brandywine Crick.  Some were much more inviting than others.  Some were simply not available because the next of blue herons or eagles had called dibs.

     Finally they found a huge sycamore nearby and Hopper shimmied up the tree with Touloose and Shep in his jaws and set them quietly on one of the higher branches where Touloose fit in very nicely. 

     In later days, as Sami talked with him, he told her that he found this new home most pleasant.  Being on the crick there were many more creatures both land roving and aquatic to see.

     He also thought this might be a good spot to keep an eye out for his friend the Sieur de La Salle if he should ever want to go hunting for a way to China down the Brandywine again.

THE CROSS WITH A VOICE LIKE A CLEARING THROAT

 

     One day Sami and Hopper heard a terrible crashing sound through the forest.     The banging clattering crunching sound was coming from down crick and the two went to investigate.

     They located the sound and headed in the direction of a small trail that was less than a mile away.  It was not a main trail or one for stage traffic or wagon commerce.  The sound appeared to be coming from there. Often a horse rider could use it or hunters and trappers on foot.

     What they came across was a cross being carried through the New Purchase territory. The cross could be easily seen.  It was a huge eight foot one. The one carrying the cross was far less distinct and appeared more as something within a strange white cloud that filled the entire trace. Behind that they saw a gang of robbers.  They were following the cross and whipping into its misty interior. They wore black robes.

     Sami and Hopper were hiding in a bush as the cavalcade reached them.

     From time to time from her close vantage point Sami could see clearly within the vapors and she was amazed that she could see absolutely nothing at all inside carrying this cross. Nevertheless, they heard a voice carrying the cross pleading. “Help me; I cannot go on much further.” The voice came from within the fog at the base of the cross and the sound was the voice of a clearing throat.

     Then the one carrying the cross fell down and the cross fell on top of him with a thud that shook the woods.

     Sami and Hopper wanted to rush over to help lift the cross off the carrier but before they could do so the robbers circled around and continued lashing into the misty presence in the interior. Groans of nyssssss could be heard. The robbers demanded money and repeated lies that they knew there was wealth due from bearing the cross.

     Sami could wait no longer.  She dashed out of her hiding place and took a place between the robbers and cross.

     “Leave this person alone!” she demanded.  “What are you doing?  Don’t you see that that this person was only carrying wood?  Why should that matter to you?”

     “We want the money,” one of them said.  “Now, little girl, get out of the way.”

     Since the procession was halted, one of the robed men walked into the cloud at the base of the cross and fanned away the cloud as he entered it.

     “Give us what we want!” the man demanded.

     Before he could leave the cloud, the robbery was halted while the leader of the robbers pulled out a gun and shot into the blurry shade killing his own fellow robber who had confronted the bearer of the cross. One of the black robed robbers pulled away the girl, saying, “This varmint wanted it all!”

    “Why?  There is only wood being carried.”

    “Yes, but it must be abandoned. You will see.”

     Then he shot into the cloud with bullets ringing out.

     Blood spurted and flowed out from the cloud at the base of the cross as gold.  The robbers shouted in glee and scooped up whole handfuls of gold.

     “Now you are talking,” one of the robbers shouted toward the cross. The blood continued to flow as gold.

     Afterwards, one of the robbers lifted up his whip and gave a cheer. “All is well.  All is well. Justice had been done. This man was a thief.  He stole the valuables of the world.  There was nothing in this world but what he stole. Fortunately we have tracked him down and killed him.”

     The robbers immediately left. But as they left, Sami saw three beautiful ladies riding their horses down the same path but from the other way. The women were each about seven feet tall and from the corners of their eyes juices looking poisonous seemed to flow.  As they urged on their horses, breath like fire came forth from their mouths.

     The robbers saw them coming and waved them down.

     Laughingly they asked the women if they would sell their horses.  The robbers pulled out from their black robes the gold they had gathered. “We have all the gold you could want for your steeds.”

     “Do you wish to lose your horse, Megara?” the first of the tall ladies asked her sister.

     Megara turned to her sister Tessie and made the same enquiry with a sneering look while the first sister, Alexis, pulled her horse up and glared at the men wearing the black robes.

     “Do you recognize these men,” Alexis asked her sisters.

     Then one of the sisters asked the men, “Were you not established to be judges of this land and not murderers of the faithful and slanderers and robbers?”

     The robbers looked at each other in dismay. They must not be addressed this way.  The chief of them told the others to pull from their black robes their guns and whips.  They were the authorities of this world. They did not need to brook contempt. 

     But as they did so, the ladies relented and invited them to join them on their mounts.

     Silently the judges of this world joined the Furies on their mounts as the ladies snapped their reins and urged their horses onward with the men in black robes aboard.

     Their progress could not be observed for up ahead, the horses plunged suddenly down into the earth.

     Now that it was safe, Sami and Hopper approached the cross more closely. They heard a voice whisper “Bear witness.” The spot seemed to shine in a bright light and shadows fled. 

     Sami and Hopper looked at each other in confusion.

     Silently enough the huge white cloud then began to drift away from the cross.  Now Sami and Hopper could surely see it. The cloud dispersed with a great rush and a sound as if from a chorus from above.

     From inside of it emerged a spiritual form of a man blackened as if from being burned in a fire and appearing as if he were a loaf of toasted bread shouting, “Believe,” the man said.  For just a moment he bowed in front of the cross and then his spiritual form spread hugely and melted into the array of forest trees.
     Another form emerged from the cloud.  He wore as a Roman prisoner’s garment and his hands were tied behind him. Blood was dripping down from the crown of his head where a hole had been drilled and a candle to light the Coliseum games of Nero had been inserted.  The glow of that candle was so intense it seemed to burn away the nearby air. Then this image too disappeared into the Hoosier forest air.  The image looked over at Sami and begged, “Place this sight and this cross into your heart.”

      Out of the cloud then rolled a huge wheel. It was not an ordinary wheel.  Inside the spokes was the broken body of a tortured Jew. This wheel rolled out along the path and into the land of the New Purchase. “Remember,” the mouth was saying as it rolled along. 

     All of these appearances occurred quickly one after another along with many more.

     The visions of such spirits continued to pour out of the cloud and saturate the Hoosier woods until the cloud was entirely gone.  Not only the cloud but also the cross had now disappeared.

       As Sami and Hopper walked solemnly back toward their log cabin the forest seemed so much more alive.  

 

THE LADY OF THE WOLVES

 

     September arrived and on its second day there was a full moon over the Hoosier

forest. It was now a place of huge shadows from the mighty Bur Oaks and White

 

Oaks and Ashes and Poplars and Water Maples, Hickories, Beeches, Red Oaks and all of

 

their other friends.

 

     At night now the katydids began to sing their night songs in earnest rubbing their

legs on their high pitched green backs. During the day they are hard to notice but at night

they serenade the Hoosier woods with high pitched choruses. Katydids signal that fall is

arriving and they love damp days such as this one from an early morning rain

 

     Sami loved to hear the katydids and she arose from her bed to go outside.  It was her habit not to wake anyone when she got out of bed at night. Nevertheless Hopper always knew Sami’s whereabouts or liked to try to so Hopper too went outside and looked about and in the moonlight he saw Sami near the corral of Crystal the cow.  The ground close to her was covered with acorns from a Bur Oak over the corral and Sami was picking them up and throwing them at the full moon in the sky.

     Before Hopper could reach Sami, he heard a terrible snarl and a quick “Help! Help!” screamed out.  It was his beloved Sami crying out. Sami was in trouble. While Hopper scampered over to join her, Sami had already disappeared into the huge forest shadows in a flash.

     Hopper could not tell how Sami had been nabbed and who had done this monstrous deed. He was however able to pick up her scent and he set off to follow it. Actually the scent of a wolf pack seemed to join Sami’s scent.   Hopper was filled with fear.  Sami must have been snagged by wolves.

    Outside were their terrible sounds. They were like calls of doom during the colder months. The worst of the late fall noises were those of the wolves. They howled and howled in the woods during the nights.  Sometimes bands of them prowled in packs of hundreds. 

     Hopper rushed back to the log cabin and awoke Uncle Carl Poe.

     Uncle Carl Poe was sleeping so soundly that Hopper had to pull him out of bed and point to the door with one of his furry paws.  Then he shook his head and jumped in and out of Sami’s bed a couple of times.  All of this made it very obvious that Sami was not in the cabin.  Any fool could have surmised that.

     Uncle Carl Poe got dressed, grabbed his musket and both man and beast rushed out the door and into the woods.   

     Then both of them followed the noises while Hopper again picked up the scent. Following all of this, they came across a log cabin unlike any other they had ever seen.  It was strangely low and yet it had enough room for a small person to get around in it under the short roof.

     Uncle Carl Poe and Hopper went to peek in the window.  When they looked inside, there was a deformed and crippled looking woman with long scraggly brown hair, a chin that jutted out and cheeks that jutted in. Sami was bound and gagged beside the woman.

     Thank goodness they had found Sami but she was in such trouble!

      Hopper wanted to immediately open the door and rush in and pull Sami out.

    “Careful! This hag must be dangerous to Sami,” Uncle Carl Poe said. “Let’s make sure we can rescue her.”

     The woman had a very evil look to her and she carried a huge carving knife.  She was setting a table except that the main course had not yet been placed on the large plate in the middle of the table. 

     For several minutes they watched as the woman put Sami into a small cage inside the log cabin. Then she went over to the hearth and raked the coals into a fire. Yawning, the woman went over to her bed and lay down but not before she went to the door of her log cabin and uttered a shrill whistle and suddenly wolves popped up as if out of the soil and appeared at her door.  Seeing them assemble, Uncle Carl Poe and Hopper climbed a nearby tree to wait and see what would happen.

     “Guard me well, my pets,” the woman said and she went back inside.

     The wolves roamed around the little cottage all the rest of the night and there was quiet until the night progressed and the morning came.

      Now at the door of the log cabin the lady kidnapping Sami reappeared at her door and stepped out.

     “Humphhhh!” she said to herself.  “I need more firewood.”

     Then the wolf went into the woods with an ax.  The wolf people followed to help her carry the wood back to the shortened log cabin.

      Uncle Carl Poe and Hopper sprang into action. Hopper said, “I think she is going to start a fire and cook Sami.”

     This gave Uncle Carl Poe time to go inside and free Sami into his arms

     They escaped the log cabin and ran out.

     The next night, a pack of furious wolves appeared at the door of Uncle Carl Poe and Sami and Hopper. They began crashing into the door of the log cabin as if to try to break it down.

     Sami recognized them immediately.  They were the wolves who had kidnapped her the previous night. They were there in full force in the midst of plants appearing grey and black in the moonlight.  The lead wolf could now be followed only in a blue light. The other wolves came to the leader and were licked and nuzzled and the leader charged each one to do their duties. They again began rushing at the door.  It shuddered and shook with its boards creaking and cracking and breaking.

     Before they could stop it, the door busted and the wolves entered the log cabin but not before Uncle Carl Poe had retrieved his gun and Sami and Hopper had climbed onto high rafters for safety.

     Longun spat out a bullet that struck the lead wolf in the leg.  The leader howled and howled. Her leg had been blown off.  The wounded animal fell and the other wolves dispersed

     Uncle Carl Poe, Hopper and Sami climbed down from their log cabin perches and were able to re-close and lock the door for safety and later that day they followed the trail of blood from where Uncle Carl Poe had wounded the leader.

     In a pile of blood they discovered the body of a gnarled little woman with a leg blown off.  She was dead. 

     When they went back to her log cabin, they could find no more wolves, and whatever the magic had been it was gone.  All that were left were blue weeds.

A SNAKE NAMED CONEHEAD

 

 

     Once a beautiful Indian Princess, Achak, chose a poor man to be her husband.  They were happy until a powerful and rich warrior, Abooksigun, wanted her as his wife. Since her husband was poor the warrior belittled him and eventually decided he must do away with the poor man and he did so. 

     One evening, Achak’s husband did not come home from the hunt, and the next morning Achak found her husband bleeding to death in the woods from an arrow wound in his back. Achak threw him behind her on her horse crying for help.  Desperately she rode around the woods seeking help in the hunter’s camps.  As she did so her husband’s blood dripped on the rich forest soil and mixed with Achak’s tears.  Every place the drops of blood and Achak’s tears conjoined a beautiful wildflower would grow with stunning color and fragrant scent. 

     Nowhere could Achak find help and at last she buried her husband along Brandywine Crick and lay down over his grave.  It is said she vowed never to die until she could again find happiness. Seeing her fret through fitless hours and wrenching days, God gave her the gift of sleep and Achak fell asleep applying to herself her own powers. Until she awoke the world simply knew Achak as the mother of Hoosier wildflowers.

      The forest land became more beauteous every year as the wild flowers grew abundantly and spread in the rich woods.

     The Hoosier woods where Achak slept was a wonder of the world.  It was as if the woods had been set aside. Poisonous snakes were not to be found. God had forbidden vipers to slither through this part of the magnificent and lovely forest.     

      As the New Purchase woods became more and more beautiful, poisonous snakes from other regions grew more and more resentful and angry. Venomous serpents wanted to crawl about and inflict their poisons in the New Purchase areas as they did elsewhere. Nevertheless, they knew if God saw them slithering in the Hoosier woods set aside as the holy burial ground of Achak, God would destroy them immediately for their impertinence and disobedience.

     The poisonous snakes were led by a particularly sneaky, deceitful and venomous rascal named Conehead.  He was called this because a single cone like horn protruded at his nose. He was the most slimy, treacherous and underhanded snake of them all.

     Conehead came up with a plan to invade the New Purchase and live underground.  They hoped to live out of sight of God’s vengeance for their disobedience. Since the snakes could not dig, his plan called for the snakes to enslave the moles of the forest and force them to provide tunnels under the surface.  This would allow the snakes to inflict their poisons by emerging in disguise from below.

     The snakes –always enjoying a joke on God - immediately agreed to Conehead’s plan. Soon all of  Conehead’s  snakes were infiltrating the woods  living beneath the surface but disguising themselves when they appeared on the surface as beautiful wildflowers growing in the forest.  Thus the viperous white snakeroot flower began to grow everywhere in the woods hiding within its beautiful flower terrible poisonous venom.

     The plan was perfect. God could not see that the prohibition against snakes was being violated because they would be hidden underground.
     In the meantime, the forest would be rid of all animals and people. 

     Once all other life was eradicated, God would have to permit the snakes to live and take over the New Purchase. Conehead would then become the ruler of an evil woods empire.

     Soon the grazing animals of the forest began eating the attractive white snakeroot plants.  The poisons entered their bodies and their predators began dying off too.  The wide ranging settler cattle ate the wildflowers and the settlers drank their milk which began killing off the settlers.

     It was on a warm September morning that Sami picked some of the wildflowers and took them inside her log cabin.
      The disguised snakes found themselves in a bouquet and observing the happy lives of the family of Uncle Carl Poe, Hopper and Sami.

     “What will we do?” the poisonous wildflower snakes said to each other. They commiserated with each other about their fate.

      The snakes did not anticipate being picked for their beauty.  They whispered to each other, “We belong in the woods. We cannot survive above ground long.  If God sees us we are done for.”

     Another snake shook his head. “If the settlers think we are so beautiful they will all start picking us and then we cannot get eaten by the forest animals to destroy them with our poisons.”

     They decided they must escape. So the poisonous wildflowers slithered out of the vase and under a crack in the door back out into the woods.

     When Sami returned the wildflowers were gone.

     As Sami brought Hopper into the investigation, Crystal the cow told Hopper that she saw them slithering back into the forest.

     Hopper and Sami had discovered that snakes were in the woods masquerading and concealing themselves as wildflowers.

     As Sami walked along, a mole stuck his nose aboveground wailing and crying out, “Help! Help!”

      Sami and Hopper rushed over to see what was the matter with the little fellow.

     It was then that the mole revealed how his people had been enslaved and were burrowing through the soil to provide snake tunnels from which poisonous snakes were emerging disguising themselves as wildflowers.

     “We must warn the animals,” Sami said to Hopper.

     “No, there are too many of them,” Sami responded.

      “What can we do?” Hopper said.
     “I have heard that the Mother of the Wildflowers is sleeping here in the woods,” Sami said. “We must find her.”
     Sami began to search the forest for Achak but their search was fruitless until they saw a red fox.

     “Do not run from us clever one,” Hopper called out to the fox. “Please help us find Achak, the sleeping princess. The salvation of the woods depends upon it.”

     The fox looked at them with great suspicion but then relented when he saw the anxiety on their faces.

     The fox told them of a magical place where he had seen a burial mound and a woman lying on it as a bed.

     Sami and Hopper went to see

     There in a hidden bower along Brandywine Crick, Sami saw the beautiful Indian princess fast asleep where she had been sleeping for many years.

     Sami went over to her and shook her gently until she awoke.

     “You must help us, Princess,” Sami said. “Snakes are taking over the form of your wildflowers to poison the forest.”

     The princess shook herself awake. “Where are these snakes in the soil?” the princess asked. 

     “We will show you,” Sami replied.

     The beautiful princess arose from her resting place with anger in her eyes.

     “Where are these murderers who are concealing themselves among my children?”
     “In the soil hiding,” Sami replied.

      Achak immediately took action. She rushed about the forest seeking out the white snakeroot flowers. 

     As she pulled them out of the soil, several tried to bite her and kill her. None succeeded.

     Up ahead, Achak spied a particularly noticeable wildflower.  It was lazily and invitingly waving its tender appearing blossoms in the warm September air.  She sat for a minute on a boulder to observe how beautiful were her wildflowers.  But this one with its height above most of the rest and bearing brilliant white clusters at the top stood out.

     “There is one,” Sami said and pointed to the plant.

     Achak ran over to the plant and began pulling it up by its roots.

     As she did so the blossoms coalesced into the head of a snake with a single horn in the shape of a cone.

     Immediately snake eyes opened in the midst of the bountiful blooms.

     The snake hissed out, “So you think you can kill me?  I don’t care who you are Princess, no one messes with Conehead.  I am going to be the ruler of these woods!”
     Having said that, the wildflower shed its camouflage entirely.  It pulled itself up from out of its mole tunnel  and there on the floor of the forest was a writhing five foot snake filled with enough venom to kill five people.

     Before Achak could protect herself, Conehead struck at her inflicting a circular bite wound on her leg.

     Just as quickly Achak reached out and grabbed the snake by the head and throwing it on the ground kicked the snake into an eternal dust.

     The wound was grievous and Achak knew that her time had come but before she passed on to her rest, she cast her sleeping spell over the moles of the woods.  Now the poisonous snakes were trapped underground with no means of escape. No longer could they slither around underground. The moles no longer provided them tunnels or escape paths underground. They were left to languish.

     Now the Princess could die happy. Her progeny the wildflowers were in full bloom everywhere and radiating beauty in the Hoosier forest. Her happiness came from realizing she and her husband had given the world great magnificence and splendor.

 

THE HAG OF THE MARSHY BOG

 

       North of Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin there was a spot where the crick spread out and made many paths through a bog.  This bog was marshy and damp and hard to walk through.  It was sopping wet terrain and smelled like decomposing and decaying vegetation.

     There was a slight path that crossed the bog.  This walkway was composed of packed dirt but there were many muddy spots in it. 

      Sami and Hopper had followed the crick north before many times but they had never                       

decaying vegetable matter. Everything was so soft and porous and spongy.

      They were walking dangerous close to the trap of the hag of the marshy bog whose scales glistened like pearls. This creature lurked below the surface of the bog that fingered out from Brandywine Crick north of Sami’s log cabin. She was lithe and slender enough to quickly move from a finger rush of water to another. She could hardly be seen through the weeds and the mire.  Her eyes were yellow and shined luminously in the dark. While swimming through the watery courses of the crick she liked to reach out to the unwary, wrap her arms around them and pull the victims toward her. If the tips of her fingers stroked the victim they would be paralyzed and she would bite them with her pointed yellow teeth amidst their shrieks and screams. The captured creature would be consumed while being held by the hag’s long bony fingers with their nails digging into the soft flesh.

    As Sami and Hopper were walking by the home of this hag, they saw the hag draw into her clutches a beautiful fawn.

    Sami immediately rushed to try to pull the fawn away.

    It was no use but Sami yelled to the hag, “Come get me! I am much bigger and more juicy.”

    The hag could not resist the challenge and climbed closer to the bank of the crick to be in a better position to nab Sami.  In the meantime she let the fawn go.

     But Sami moved back further, so the hag had to move from the crick onto the bank of the stream to get close enough to snag her.

    Sami drew back further and the hag now had to slink further up on the bank.

     As she did so, the light of the sun in the healthy air of the forest embraced her.

     The hag found she was losing her strength. The beams of light continued to strike her body used to murkiness.

     As she was onto the land the sun clouted and beat into her face and body and she began to shrink.  The light of day had exposed and decomposed the evil in her.

THE BLACK PLACE

 

     One afternoon after a busy morning on this September day, Sami and Hopper walked down the crick through crispy and tawny leaves at about the same leisurely pace of the crick.  The water was never very clear during this season of the year and it looked green more for the reason that its surface had so many reflections from the weeds and bank plants growing along its course.  The bigger rocks along the banks were clearly more visible now that summer was ending and the days and nice became equally long again. The closest of the branches of the trees bent down to hide the path of the waters from here to there.  Occasionally a little limb hung over the crick with a water snake wrapped around its end with its head alert to catch a minnow or two swimming in the water close below. 

     The air along the crick this day was heavy and warm and the scene was very quiet and peaceful.  Even as an occasional leaf fell into the crick it made no noise as it turned itself into a boat and sent out concentric waves to signal its arrival in the crick.    Lacewings flew along the bank and praying mantis’s held their hands stiffly on weeds nearby.

     There was always the little advantage in these woods of so many deer living close by.

They snapped off most of the low vegetation up to about four feet or so making walking through the woods much easier.

     As Sami and Hopper came to a bend about a mile from their home, the little bear decided to veer into the deeper woods.  As he did so, the bank was blotted out more and more until a canopy of leaves from huge sugar trees and others almost blotted out the light altogether.

     The light got scarcer with every step the two took.  The weeds remained green of course even in the deepest woods and the plants grew taller as if to try to catch more sun than the damp woods seemed to permit.

     It seemed like they had come across some kind of fairy path after a while because they could follow cuts that in the undergrowth of the woods that were really unaccountable.  Yellow orioles flew along this path and disappeared on their way to the crick.  Propeller seeds of the maples made a carpet along this path.

     Suddenly up ahead the darkness of the woods became complete. They had come across a black place.

     Hopper wanted to enter the black place and then he did so. He called out for Sami to join him and she did so.

     The place was annihilation. This black place seemed like it was snatching things in.

Here there was absolutely no light at all. 

          At first you could look back and see at least a dim shadow of the outline of the Hoosier woods but as they walked further and further in all semblances of the woods disappeared.  Now they were in the blackness with only the six orioles circling overhead to shine enough light for them to keep on the path.

     Hopper said to Sami, “do you want to go ahead into this black place?  We can’t tell what we will find in there. We might find swallowers in there.”

     Just then the orioles that they had seen earlier reappeared and their yellow underbellies had turned into dim lights that enabled some slight illumination.
     As they walked inside the Black Place they could hear birds flying overhead in confusion.  They had to feel their way along the deer paths.

     Just then about six of the little light birds flew overhead and darted around the heads of Sami and Hopper as if it say, “Don’t worry.  We will help you find your way in the oriole chatter that sounds so much like “tssk tssk tssk.”  Just follow us.

     In the very dim light, Sami and Hopper continued their walk deeper and deeper into the black place.

     And then they were deserted by the light birds.  They were on their own and groping about trying to keep out of the way of strange objects that did not seem familiar.  They were lost in blackness that was the opposite of a void.

     Finally, up ahead they saw a slight break in the blackness.

     As they walked toward it, they noticed that there was a little demon seated on his haunches Indian style reading a book by the light of a candle.  Instead of feet he had the talons of a bird and on his back were dark wings like those of a crow.  Otherwise he looked human with long dark hair and red eyes that were closing since a forest demon goes to sleep early in the evening when their powers begin to wan.

     As the candle flickered the man’s outline grew more and more thickly black.

     The black place was simply the shadow of this demon.  Since he was so defiant to God and malevolent about what he did his shadow spread darkness very widely.

     “Shhhh.” Sami said to Hopper. 

     Sami and Hopper approached him quietly and noticed he was reading a strange book that contained odd writing.

     All of a sudden, the demon laughed and spread his hands and in the direction he pointed a great crack in the earth went forth along with earthquake shaking.  In the far distance Sami and Hopper could hear people shouting in terror while the demon laughed.    

   Apparently all of the power of this demon came from incantations, spells and magic in this book.

     “I don’t think we can find our way out of this black place,” Sami said.

     “If all of the blackness is just this demon’s shadow then it will disappear if we can get him to leave our forest,” Hopper said.

     “We will have to get his book and see if there is a spell in it we can use to control him,” Sami said.      

     “Okay, I will snuff out the candle so he cannot see and his own darkness will not allow him to see us.  Grab him and you get the book.”

     As soon as Hopper had the demon in his grasp, Sami ran out, picked up the book and ran off with it.

      The little demon struggled and eventually shook off Hopper’s grasp and took off into the sky.

     As he did so his shadow lifted off the land.

    Hopper found Sami hiding behind a tree.

    When Sami got home, she went to the crick to draw water into the bucket and then repeated the words of the demon and pointed to the log cabin.

     The bucket full of water went flying into the log cabin.

     Not only that but the bucket returned to the crick scooped up another and went into the log cabin again.

     Uncle Carl Poe had gone fast asleep in his bed when the water in the cabin began to rise and lift his bed with Uncle Carl Poe in it up to the ceiling.

     Here was a page with a well on it and a bucket that was flying back and forth from the well to a log cabin.

    Soon they heard the sound of Uncle Carl Poe yelling: “Get me out of here.  I am drowning!”

     Sami opened the door and all the water came out.

     Sami grabbed the bucket and pointed it to a distant tree and resaid the magical words.  Soon the bucket was going back and forth to this tree. And did so until the bucket wore itself out.

     At the end of the spill came Uncle Carl Poe totally soaked.

     “What has happened?” he asked.

     Sami showed him the book and taught him her water bucket trick.

THE GOLDEN EGGS

     As fall season deepened, the September morning was filled with crisp air and the leaves of the sugar trees of the forest began turning their soft shades of red, yellow and orange. The summer heat had burnished the grass which now returned to its luxuriant emerald.

     Sami saw bright lights falling from the sky.  It was as if part of the sun had glimmered out.

     At about the same time, she saw a great shining out in the woods. Sami called Hopper and the two went out to investigate.  They followed this light.

     What new wonder were they witnessing?

      Soon there was a great squawk nearby like a honk. The lights were giant blazingly

bright birds. They were flying as a squadron of brilliance.

     A red tailed hawk nearby flew close and then bowed its head and fluttered its wings as

if to say welcome.

      Then there were other sounds of flapping wings in the midst of stunning brightness 

Hopper and Sami froze in astonishment.  The center of the lights moved with astounding

speed that reduced itself as they flew overhead over the Hoosier forest.  They were

looking for something.


           Hopper and Sami followed them and saw them circle over a huge cottonwood tree

on the banks of the Brandywine.

     Then after each alighted upon the tree and stayed but long enough to construct a nest

each left.

 

     Hopper sniffed and sniffed and followed his nose up into the tree and came down carrying a golden egg.  Shortly after they went back up and returned with another. The huge tree was full of them.

     The two noticed how dark was the world during this sojourn of the birds into the forest and then how brightly lit it was as the golden birds continued their journey into the western sky.

    Then as they were cradling the golden eggs, they heard the sound of marching and the tunes that sometimes are used as a cadence by troops on the march. “Go to your left, your right your left. Go to your left your right your left.”
     When they heard these sounds, Sami and Hopper concealed themselves behind a clump of bushes. Then as they looked out through a break in the branches, they observed a sight of troops of a regiment of about a thousand raccoons tramping in a military demonstration.  Many of the troops of raccoons appeared tired as if they had been on a long campaign in the woods and were now of necessity due to return for rest and relaxation. 
     At the head of the troops there was the great one of the raccoons.  His feats were so legendary in the woods that he had become known in history as “Bandit the Great.”  Whenever that name was stated, all knew who it was that was being referred to. His exploits had caused his army of raccoons to triumph over every enemy and his troops had even stormed settler homes and trashed them into submission with his loyal troops obtaining the benefits of every booty.
     Bandit the Great halted his troops at the tree and sent several raccoons up the tree to examine and reconnoiter its branches to see if they had discovered the source of new booty.
     The scouts returned with the good news that a large supply of eggs was in the trees waiting to be captured.  No guard was there.  They could loot the bounty with impunity.
     Sami said to Hopper, “Don’t you know if they eat those eggs they will drive the world into darkness?”
      
Who wants darkness when there can be light ion the world?  We are children of the light. Sleeping is done in the dark but the morning light arouses us to begin the day.
     Hopper said, “It is clear we are going to have to save those eggs.”
     They came out of hiding and confronted Bandit the Great. He was a very imposing and arrogant type. He was addressed as Colonel by his regiment.
Everyone knows that the face of every creature reveals its inner character. “The Great” had a face with a set jaw and piercing eyes.  The rest of his body showed the greatest limbs to climb and paws to manipulate of any of the raccoons.  There was also a natural sweet smell that he carried whose aroma reached out from his muscular body into even distant spaces.
     How could one bear not even a year old fend off a battalion of raccoons?  What bravery that would take!
     Hopper climbed tree and threw down a scout who was throwing eggs down to the regiment below.

     While he did so, Sami got a stick and went to the trunk of the tree and began swinging it at the advancing troops.
     Overhead the golden birds looked down to the see the danger to their eggs.  The mothers began crying and crying to think that their eggs would never hatch.  As they did so their tears fell.
     Sami held open her hands and caught the tears.  They glowed in her hand.
     She wiped them on the trunk of the huge cottonwood tree and when she did the trunk first began to glow and then shine with all the strength of the sun itself.
     The light from the tears grew brighter and brighter, as bright as fire itself and the raccoons were first blinded and then fell in dazes company by company.
     There was nothing to do but retreat.
     For the next several days, Sami and Hopper rose early in the morning in order to see if the golden eggs were safe. The tears of fear from the golden birds never relinquished their shiny and enduring vigilance.     

THE WITCHES’ DELICIOUS STEW

 

      Not every person who fled into the Hoosier forest was kind and gentle. There was once a terrible witch who fled from Massachusetts into the woods.

      As witches go it was a benefit to everyone that she had fled. On the very day of her departure, all of the lilies in Massachusetts were struck down by rain and sleet and drooped down lost forever. All she every liked to do was to make it hard on those around her. She kept a kettle of trouble brewing in a large iron pot in front of her log cabin. Her home was a deadened place in the woods surrounded by thickets with a single path to its door. Along its way was a great iron kettle that was filled with a brew mixed under a full moon amidst her shrieking terrible incantations about life.

     This cauldron of her stew contained a mixture of baby owl wings, frog toes, a dog’s tongue, several toads, the forked tongue of garter snakes, the blood of a lamb, the sweat off of newts and lizard legs.

     She left bowls of her stew out in the forest at different places and any animal that drank the potion would creep to her log cabin in a dreamlike condition and find themselves butchered and eaten on her table. The aroma of the stew was so delicious smelling that it simply could not be resisted.

     One day Hopper came across one of the bowls of this woman out in the forest and not knowing better he drank a large swig. Immediately robins nearby fluttered away in fright and wrens settled on willow branches set them bobbing.

     Sami was close behind him when he made this great mistake.

     The next thing you know, Hopper - as if in a trance - began creeping away from Sami.

     It was then that Sami saw the bowl and noticed that Hopper had drunk its entire contents.

     Sami followed Hopper as he walked along.

     She tried to get him to follow her from time to time but when Sami would look into his eyes all she saw were blank stares and Hopper would continue on walking.

     Eventually, Sami saw Hopper approach the witch’s log cabin and go to the door and pound on the door.

     “Oh hello,” the witch said. She opened the door with creamy white hands. “I am so glad to see you my furry friend.” Her brows were extended so far out no sun could brighten up her sallow face.

     The witch had in her hand a glass of fine boysenberry wine.  The witch set it down to go to the door and let in Hopper.

     Then, Sami saw the door shut and when she snuck over and looked through the window she saw that Hopper had walked into a cage and the witch had closed its door.

     As Sami watched, the witch went to her hearth where there was a large and sharp knife.

     There was little time.

     Sami raced over to the door with her hair blowing out behind.

     Soon the witch was at the front door holding the knife.

     When Sami saw this person, she trembled and at first wanted to run but then she thought about Hopper and she did not run away.

     Instead she went over to the kettle and filled a small gourd nearby and held it in her hand.  Then quickly Sami went to the front door and pounded on the door.

     “Hello, my pretty,” the witch said.  “Have you also drunk my delicious brew?”

     Sami did not answer her but acted like she was in the same trance that she had noticed Hopper was in.

     "Come in. Come in," the witch said. But she was scratching her head.

     She only had the one cage to hold her victims.

     While she was trying to figure out what to do, Sami said to her. “I am still so thirsty can I have another drink?
     "Why yes," the witch said. "You stay where you are” and then she went to get a gourd and filled it with more of her potion.

     In the meantime, Sami poured the portion into the witch’s own boysenberry wine.

     When she returned, the witch handed the cup to Sami who pretended to drink it while the witch took a large drink of her own wine.

     It was not long before the witch’s eyes turned dreamy and fixed with confusion.

     The witch left the cabin and walked back to its door and knocked.

     “Hello, Sami said, it is so fine to see you.  Come in.”

     Sami quickly undid the latch to release Hopper and the witch crawled into the cage under the influence of her own potion.
     By this time, the potion was wearing off of Hopper and together the two latched the cage with the witch in it and left the cabin romping back to Uncle Carl Poe's cabin.  No more would they drink from bowls in the forest no matter how delicious they smelled   

 

THE FISH PEOPLE

 

     There were many days of pleasant life in the woods.  There was so little to disturb the peace and quiet.

     That is not to say that there were no good times with neighbors.

     Every once in a while all of the neighbors would gather together for something like apple parings, weddings or crop harvesting for a sick neighbor. Many gatherings were to assemble help to raise building frames.

        With many new neighbors arriving into the New Purchase, homes and barns were rising up like mushrooms after a warm April rain and the snow melt.  The buildings were built roomier and sturdier every time.  Carpenters were become more and more experienced in fashioning timbers and making the careful measurements necessary to ensure that mortises fit when put together. If a carpenter couldn’t fit his timbers together, he would never live it down.  At the neighborhood party afterwards, everyone would know of his errors and he would have to quit his trade.  When a building was completed, an evergreen would top the structure and the crowd would shout and cheer. 
     The frolic afterward was a happy occasion when work was done.  Raising a frame was hard work and the play afterward was just as intense.
     Fiddles broke the silence after the meals for the workers. They whooped up the atmosphere. Assemblies of neighbors were musical time and sociable time.  Conversations sprang up about the news. There was talk of this section of the Hoosier woods teeming with near one thousand people sometime in the future.

     One of the finest fiddlers in Indiana strummed his fiddler at one of these festivals. Next thing you know, this fellow left hurriedly the next day saying his fiddle had been stolen.

     As he related it, he had stolen off,  down a weedy way along Brandywine Crick with a pole, some knotty string and a fishhook. He had found a sunny spot and kicked off his shoes and fallen asleep.  Next thing you know the fiddle was stolen.

     Right after that day a fish person emerged from the Brandywine Crick and knocked at Sami’s log cabin door while Uncle Carl Poe was gone.

      Sami opened the door and the fish person came into the cabin with a question, “How can I be a human being like you are?”  The fish was actually a rather beautiful lady as fish go.

     Sami noticed that the fish person could walk and talk and told her, “You are already like one. What more could you want?”
     “I want to become so beautiful that I can attract a handsome man and have beautiful children.”

     About then, Sami and Hopper noticed that this fish person was joined by several others who were emerging from the crick.

     “Wait right here,” Sami said and she and Hopper went down to the crick to see where the fish people were emerging.

      What they noticed was that down in the water there was a large fish of the same species as the others playing a fiddle that had been swept into the crick from the house of a neighbor.  The fish’s fins were snapping its strings and playing haunting songs of love gained and lost.

     While they watched, they observed a sunfish swim over and listen to the music and then climb out onto the bank of the crick and join the other fish people.

     Sami went to the log cabin and took down her Uncle Carl Poe’s fishing pole.  She then put on it the most delicious looking worm she could find and took it to the crick.

     Soon the fiddler playing fish was hooked and Sami brought the fish up to her sight.

     “Your talents are teaching your fish friends to seek impossible things, Sami said to the fish. If you keep teaching them to seek human love there will soon be no more fish in the crick.”

     “I can’t help it,” the fish said through sad eyes.

     “Well then, you will simply have to be cooked,” Sami said.

     When the music of false hopes ended, all of the fish people returned to the crick and forgot their human aspirations.

     Sami pulled the fiddle out of the crick and returned it to its rightful owner.

 

THE TREE OF DEATH

 

    On Saturday, the last one in the month of October, Hopper and Sami went out into the

 

woods and came across a new tree.

 

    It seemed to be all by itself as if no other tree wanted to grow around it.  Hopper

 

immediately noticed a bee hive up in the tree and scampered over to climb up to

 

investigate. 


     Just as he scampered closer, Sami called out to her pet “No, Hopper, No! There is

something strange about this tree.” There was not a single bee flying in or out of the hive.    

 

     Sami threw a stick at the tree.  It crumbled into ashes.

     About then a little woods bee did come near and checked out the hive and then flew close to land nearby.  Just as its antenna touched the attraction a tiny zap was heard and the bee disappeared.

     The leaves of this tree were like no other tree that they had seen.  All of them had bloody red veins in the green leaves as if blood was flowing within it.

     But the strangest thing was that the tree was growing amidst a pile of bones of the dead.  Most were animals but some of the bones appeared to be from ages long past.  There were mounds of shells and horns as well as bones and they led one to believe that there had been dinosaurs in the vicinity that died under the limbs of this very tree.

     The tree was huge and each branch supported a fruit that Sami and Hopper had never seen before.  The fruit were clustered within a horrible smelling flower.  The fruit were like strawberries in that the outer skin contained thousands of tiny black seeds.

     Around it there were many birds in flight but they seemed to be enchanted and flied on hanging and robotic appearing wings.

The birds were all black including their beaks and they were of many sizes.  Some appeared large enough to fly across distant oceans. Others did not seem to be designed for such long flights. 

     Then Sami and Hopper heard a voice from the tree addressing each bird as it came closer.

     The tree was calling out a name to each of the black birds that came within its ambit. Once the name was announced the blackbird pecked at the fruit of this tree until it held in its beak a single black seed.  The bird backtracked out of the tree and flew off.

Once in a while, one of these zombified birds would make the mistake of swallowing the seed.  Then the little flyer would simply stop the chirps, fall to the ground with a kerplop and stick its stick legs up in the air. After a twitch or two the bird was done.  It was very clear that seed was a very potent little piece of medicine.

     Whenever this would happen, the tree would shake with anger at the little flyer for being so incompetent and then call out the same name to another bird to complete the assignment.  With a flutter and a nod, the new little bird would peck for a seed and then take off on its mission to find the person named and drop on them the fruit of this tree.

     Here came a little squirrel.  It approached the tree and then bounded up only to fall back down to the ground on its back with its body quivering. Within seconds it had rotted and its teeth were left briefly on its empty little skull before vaporizing.

     Sami restrained Hopper from going near it.

     Just then, Sami heard the tree calling out to one of the blackbirds a familiar name.

     The tree called out the name UNCLE CARL POE!

     The little blackbird that was given this name immediately went over to one of the fruits of the tree and pecked out a seed and cocked its head for the instructions about where Uncle Carl Poe was to be found.  Then the bird flew off in the direction of Sami and Hopper’s log cabin.

     Sami and Hopper had seen enough to fear that Uncle Carl Poe’s very life was in danger.  They must stop that little blackbird from getting close to Uncle Carl Poe with the seed of this dangerous tree.

     Immediately they set out for the cabin.

     They arrived just in time to see the blackbird circling over Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin for the zillionth time trying to get in or figure out a way to deliver its load.

     Sami ran to the cabin door and then entered.  She went over to Longun.

     “You have got to help us!” she cried out at the musket.

     Uncle Carl Poe himself was seated over by the hearth.

     “Hold on, child,” he said.  “What is the matter?”

     He got up to go over to the child who was approaching his musket to try to take it down from its pegs.

     Sami protested as her uncle came to her and held her in his arms.

     “We have come across a tree that is trying to kill you!” Sami said breathlessly.

     Uncle Carl Poe carried the little girl over to his seat by the hearth and smiled.

     “Uncle,” the little girl insisted, “You are in great danger.”

     Hopper went over to Uncle Carl Poe and placed his head upon the man’s lap and began nodding his head to confirm the problem.

     “Oh, is that so,” Uncle Carl Poe said smiling first at one of the two and then the other.

     He got up out of his chair and prepared to go to the door. “Let me go outside and see if there is such a bird!”

     “Oh no! Uncle, you must not go outside,” Sami said.

     Just then, there was a pecking at the door.  It was as if someone was seeking entrance to the log cabin. But it was such a faint little knock that whoever it was must have been very small.

     “Maybe that is your bird come to call!” Uncle Carl Poe said and he went over to the door to open it.

     Outside you could hear a twittering and a sweet little bird’s happy chirping.

     Hopper got between Uncle Carl Poe and the door.  So did Sami.

     Then Logun jumped into Sami’s arms and as the little bird opened the door and the gun got itself quickly oriented on the blackbird, Longun let loose one of his balls.

     The blackbird took one look at the lead ball zeroed in on it and screamed a great goodbye before loosing its black seed and taking off for parts unknown.

      After the seed fell, it landed on a little dandelion plant which immediately went from yellow flower to puff ball and then blackened into ashes.

     Uncle Carl Poe was at the door and took all of this in.

     Then he went over to Hopper and Sami and took them both into his arms. “I do believe you two have saved my life!” he said merrily.

     “You stay here, Uncle,” Sami said.     

     “We have got to kill us a tree,” Sami said. 

     Hopper agreed.

     They decided the fastest way to kill it would be to dig its roots out from the bones and then chop off the roots.  Every plant dies that can get no nourishment from its roots.

     The next day they came back with a spade.   They tried to expose its roots.  When they got deep in the ground, they found that its roots intertwined in such a way as to form a spiral staircase.

      “I think the steps of this tree lead to hell!”

     Now you might ask yourself, “What would a bear know about hell?”  Good question. It might be about the same question as what does a little girl know about it…especially one who doesn’t live near a Sunday school.

     The fact is most people know that deep underground lives a really mean tempter with red skin that comes from scarlet colored burning going on around him.

      As they were digging, the tree kept yelling at them to get away.

      But every time, the tree said something, Sami looked over at it and said, “You are a bad tree! Now shut up!!!”

      But the point about this enterprise was that it was undoubtedly more of a task than a four year old girl and her pet bear could get done.

      In fact the tree knew this full well and every time Sami dug into the bones the tree laughed and laughed.  “You are never going to get anywhere, tyke!” the tree yelled at her. “There have been lots of others who have tried and look at their bones around here.”
      “Mind your own business,” Hopper yelled back.

     The tree had resumed calling out the names of people to the blackbirds.

     By the end of the day, they had gotten nowhere.

     At this point, the tree called out to them, “I know who you are.”
     Then he shook a branch at them and said, “I’ll bet you are here because you are angry with me for killing Uncle Carl Poe.”

     “Too bad!” Sami yelled back.  “He is still alive.”
     When the tree heard that it made a terrible sound like the tearing and ripping off of bark from a tree.

     “Tomorrow I will take care of that!” the tree said.

     “The tree is going to try to kill Uncle Carl again tomorrow,” Sami said.

     Run home, Hopper and get the gunpowder horn and the fire box.

     But at the house, Uncle Carl Poe got wind of the incident and stepped in.

     Now how much of all this was true and how much was fiction was not clear to the frontiersman, but one thing was clear.

     He did not want a four year old and her bear blasting a tree down with gunpowder.  On the other hand, Uncle Carl Poe was a realist and didn’t like the idea of receiving a death bomb on his head from blackbirds.

     The compromise was clear.  He got his auger, a couple of ounces of his precious gunpowder, and he had his kids go out and collect some clay and gravel.  He could use an old cotton rag for a “fuse.”

      It took only an hour of emergency work to get ready and then tramp back to the “Death Tree.”

     “Don’t get too close, Uncle,” Sami insisted.

     “Don’t get close at all!” pleaded the tree when it saw what was going on.

     “Too bad!” Uncle Carl told the tree.  “You are going down!!!”
     “That can’t happen!” the tree shouted at Uncle Carl Poe.  “I have stood here during all the millennia.  Without me, there can be no life at all!”

      “Too bad,” the old Frontiersman said. “You’re getting g to stick under my skin.  Now shut up and take it like a man.”
      “Help! Help!” the tree screamed out as it felt the auger bore a hole deep into the center of the tree.  Of course the auger, being metal, was already lifeless so the Tree of Death could do nothing about the intrusion.

      The Death Tree had one last mode of defense.  He shouted at all the blackbirds to immediately attack Uncle Carl Poe.  “Pluck out his eyes so he can’t see what he is doing,” the tree demanded.

      Hopper and Sami intervened.  While Uncle Carl Poe tamped in the clay and gravel over the gunpowder he had put in the hole and then lit the fuse, Hopper knocked down hundreds of attacking blackbirds with his paws and Sami caught an equal number in the tree limb she waved about over Uncle Carl Poe’s head.

     Once the fire raced up the fuse into the gunpowder, it was all over for the Tree of Death.

      Although Hopper and Sami had killed the tree, they did not notice that it had a shoot growing nearby.  Its green leaves with red veins immediately began to sprout from the little thin trunk in the ground. This shoot was quietly waiting to grow up quickly to replace its parent.

     But in the meantime, Sami and Hopper and Uncle Carl Poe walked victoriously through the woods back to their home. About halfway home, the blackbirds who formerly had been enslaved by the malicious will of the Tree of Death made garlands of daisies and bedecked the triumphant little band.  They had never really wanted to be mean creatures.

 

MONKEY APOCALYPSE

    

     There came a very scary day outside.  The wind howled and raged.  It was as if it were poised loudly overhead preparing to snatch everything below.

     As this day in October ended, fifty monkeys were picked up by a cloud in South America and sent northward from their jungle home to land in the Hoosier forest. It was close to Halloween and no doubt an evil demon did this thing as a trick against life. The little cloud got lost in a huge blanket of dark rain and poured down not far from the log cabin of Uncle Carl Poe.

     Mostly the monkeys disappeared into the forest not to be seen again. Their leader, Bobby Jack, told them, “Hey, there aren’t any jaguars here! Nor a single black caiman or anaconda.” What he didn’t tell them was that there were many other predators.
     There was however one baby monkey, Lee J, that Sami found after the others scampered off in their unfamiliar surroundings.

     Sami was fascinated when she saw the baby monkey looking so lonely and hungry next to Brandywine Crick.
     “When were you born?” Sami asked the little baby monkey.
     “I don’t know.  I am too little to remember.”
     This little monkey was a real comedian.
     Sami decided to take the monkey home with her. It was such fun to gather this monkey up into her arms. It felt like Sami’s own little baby child.  The baby monkey was cute and acted like a child needing attention and love. She had a furry brown face, and while most monkeys walk on all four legs, Lee J walked with a little sway added on two legs so she could be more like Sami.

     But Lee J was also very affectionate and fun to care for and an excellent companion for Sami and Hopper. Hopper loved the little baby just as much as Sami. It wasn’t long before Sami began feeding her with a bottle and treating her as a toddler.
     She dressed the baby monkey in her own clothes.
     The problem was that this baby monkey had a big mouth.
     Lee J. was late on getting fed one day and when Uncle Carl Poe commented enough of the precious milk had been wasted on the monkey, the monkey said, “There is one too many monkeys in this room, and I think it is you!”
     One morning, Lee J took down Uncle Carl Poe’s’ trusty musket, Longun, from its gun rack and said, “I’ll bet you didn’t know I shot an elephant in these baby clothes. How he got in these stupid clothes I don’t know. Of course I tried to remove his tusks but they wouldn’t give. In Alabama, the Tuscaloosa but that is ir-elephant to what I am saying.”
     Uncle Carl Poe shook his head.  What was this monkey talking about?  He knew however he had better get the weapon out of the monkey’s hands.
     Sami let the baby play with her own toys and Lee J. went with her and Hopper on their tromps. The little baby loved to jump on Hopper’s back and leap off onto a tree limp and swing through the trees before landing back on Hopper. She definitely had a crazy streak.
     But then the baby monkey began to grow up. 
     Uncle Carl Poe began seeing lots of broken dishes and the supply was running out. Bowls were the worst problem. Something was picking up the dishes and busting them. One time Uncle Carl Poe saw a broken dish next to Lee J. and Sami.
     “Who did this?” Uncle Carl Poe asked. “Big girls don’t break dishes,” Uncle Carl Poe told Sami.

     “I didn’t do it,” Sami told him.
     “I didn’t do it either,” Lee J. lied. Then the monkey said to Uncle Carl Poe, “Who are you going to believe, her or your own eyes?”
     More and more Lee J became the jungle creature that nature had intended him to be.  When he was hungry he was very vocal and made a sound much like a dog.  
     Sometimes he forgot he was inside the house when he should have gone outside for his business. Then too Lee J began to consider Sami’s bed to be his own territory and became aggressive when Sami wanted to go to bed.  One day he attacked Uncle Carl Poe and Uncle Carl Poe could not restrain the monkey from biting, scratching and hitting at him with a pan. He also kicked Uncle Carl Poe very hard. 
     Uncle Carl Poe said, “I’ll teach you to kick me!”
     “You don’t need to, I already know how.”    
     That day Sami had a talk with her toddler monkey.
     “I cannot behave the way you want me to,” the baby monkey said sadly.  “I don’t know what to do.  I cannot find any of my fellow monkeys and yet I cannot fit into the life of you and Hopper and Uncle Carl Poe.  Everybody hates me.”
     With that Sami picked up her baby monkey and gave him a big hug and comforted her as he fell asleep.
     That night the monkey stole a wish that Sami had coming and became very tiny and hid himself in a piece of candy from the general store and when Sami ate it the monkey took a seat in Sami’s head.  

    No one said much about it.  Only Uncle Carl Poe would occasionally ask, “What happened to that monkey?”  No one knew.  Then, every now and then, Uncle Carl Poe would say to Sami, “You are monkeying around,” or “Stop acting like a monkey,” things like that.  Sometimes he would say, “You are acting like that monkey did that disappeared from around here.”

     The monkey in Sami’s head liked to hear that.

     Then came Halloween night.

     No one realized that Halloween night in 1819 would be any different than any other night.  The few settlers lived far apart mostly on little cricks and in settled road junctures or crossings. There was no opportunity for the children to go door to door with the familiar call, “Trick or Treat.”

     The Hoosier woods was, however, still experiencing Halloween every year. It was as much a part of the season as dwindling daylight, crisp air and colorful leaves,

     As the golden rays from the sun birds dimmed from the sky, darkness began to fall like a black curtain.

     On this Halloween night, monkey chatter began to be heard.

     Monkeys appeared everywhere dragging their feet as they drew themselves up from their places of death. The forest predators had quickly dispatched them all after they first landed. Most looked like rotten monkey carcasses. Some had teeth exposed from torn cheeks. Some had eye sockets the size of saucers. Most were bloody red in spots and splotches, here and there. A few carried the fruits of the reincarnation activity already - mostly bloody unrecognizable flesh or the animal brains that zombies seek to strengthen themselves.

     They all gathered as if summoned by some sort of strange oral language of the dead. The gathering was slow and painful to most of those who were forced to navigate on mangled feet or hobbled due to bitten off limbs.

     There was only one monkey who did not join the others very quickly.

     Sami had gone to bed on that Halloween night at the usual hour but found herself throwing off her bedclothes and walking against her will outside the log cabin and toward a noisy place filled with what sounded like terribly screeching and growling monkeys.

     The last to gather with the others was Sami who had the baby monkey in her head.

     Sami felt herself pulled to the site of the zombie monkey reunion.  The monkey in her head was drawing her there irresistibly.

     She reached a place in the woods where monkey chatter was deafening. The chatter seemed to be outlandish mouthings with mysterious echoes that sound like chants for “Flesh! Flesh! Revenge!”

     At the monkey circle monkeys were jumping about threateningly with maimed mouths and posturing with their dangling wounded flesh. From time to time, another zombie monkey would enter this fuming circle returning to their comrades set down in the forest with strings of flesh or intestines or dripping organs dangling from their bloody lips.

     One swatted at a tree and it fell.  The zombie monkeys began discovering that they had superhuman powers.  It was the uncontrollable and unconquerable force of revenge at life for their dire fates. Evil demands flared and reinforced the insuperable forces. Another tore out another tree and batted it at another which also fell. The chattering satisfaction spread.  Soon the monkeys were monkey giggling and destroying huge swaths of the Halloween Night forest.
     A small band of the zombie monkeys began attacking every living creature they encountered. One of them turned a sharp stone into a knife and began cutting off a deer skin and throwing the pieces about.

    One band attacked the house of a settler who came out in the night to find the zombie monkeys attacking his dogs. He shot at them several times before he learned that to kill a zombie of any kind you must strike it in the head.

     After destroying this home, the zombie monkeys turned toward the east. They were on their way to Washington DC to make sense out of its politics. On the way, wherever they went they pulled up crops just for the fun of it. The zombie monkeys had incredible might and limitless energy. They struck back at the animals that had turned them into unsuited Hoosier forest fatalities and were heading towards the White House.

    It could have been the end of the world.
    Then as midnight came around, the day of All Saints arrived.
    The saints of the world put aside their rest to return to the lands where they had won their blessings through confession of the name of Jesus Christ.
     Now the world began its annual cleansing by the faithful servants of old. Each was as firm as a rock, as unconquerable as a fortress and as strong as the mightiest wind. 
     Their Captains began the work in the darkness of the night cleansing the earth of evil and bearing before them the true light. Their glory shined in scrutiny of the world and they observed the monkey zombies empowered by the angry force of errant evil.

     A new place in the world was under attack.
     It was the Hoosier woods.  None of the saints had taken communion there nor partaken of the fellowship of like sufferers for Christ. Here was not a place where any had earned their victor’s crown of martyrdom.
     But America was a new place for the countless saints to stream out of the gates of pearl of heaven.

     And then the Holy Ones noticed that Sami was a part of the mob of the living dead destroyers of the earth on the wave of their destructive path to destroy the new American nation.

     “We must save this child,” one saint said.
     “Yes, we must restore Order. God wishes us to stream into the new American wilderness and witness there.”
     “The child in this mob of zombie monkeys has not given up,” the saints perceived.
     “She is calling for help.”
     And indeed she was.  Sami was trembling and moaning. Her whole body was shivering in the fright of marching with these creatures of horror.
     Sami was shaking her head to remove its monkey business.

     “Give her to see the light,” the saints decreed. “She must never doubt that there is light in the world.”

     Sami awoke and looked out the window.  It was morning.
     Sami felt the monkey in her head jump out as she woke from her terrible Halloween night dream.
     But as she awoke another thought became lodged in it.  It was the sound of a triumph song in the skies on this All Saints Day. In her head was the vision of those who had faced strife and persecution in the world and who had remained faithful. Then came a vision of saints of every color, male and female, bearing every gene, of every nation, of every laudable belief, of every orientation, of every mental and physical infirmity, from the far ends of the earth and those places near where a countless host were in a chorus singing to her and reminding her always to be brave, knowing faithful arms are strong in eventual triumph.

    

WOODS BABIES

 

     One morning in the next week, the rain started coming down from the sky in torrents.  This woke everybody up it was beating so.  Sami opened her eyes about the same time Hopper did and the two went outside. Soon the rain settled into a drizzle that would last almost all the day.

      It was in the first week of November and the sleet of the day turned into ice.  Sami was bundled up with layers of wool clothing and a heavy coat with squirrel tales for a collar.

      Today was the day that Uncle Carl Poe promised to help some neighbors butcher a hog for the winter and he left early on leaving Sami and Hopper to fend for themselves.

      The two simply could not stay inside despite the cold temperature and bundled up to go outside.  They decided to stay under the trees for shelter from the bitter winds this day and Sami had picked out a favorite place to go.  It was a huge poplar tree down the crick a quarter mile.  This old poplar was every bit of ten feet in diameter and hollow at the ground. It offered shelter from the weather. It was also a great hide out and it was hollow until about six feet up so it made a perfect second home place to fill with a stump chair and table.

     After resting inside for a moment, Hopper picked up a scent he could not get out of his snoot and he became restless. Not much later Hopper disappeared into the woods a little ways and when he came back he was carrying an Indian child by his breechcloth in his mouth.  The baby boy’s dark braids were dangling to the ground and the little fellow was crying big time.

     Sami went over and had her bear drop his prize and gave him a pet.
     How could any parents leave a child to be saved from the dangers of the woods by a bear?
    Then she tried to talk to the little excited youngster who could not utter a word.

    But before long, there was another sound coming from the same direction as that from which the baby had been extracted.

     Hopper took off into the woods again.   There was a dry spot where paw paw bushes had thrived during the fall.  Hopper knew this spot well because he loved to go there to pick the luscious yellow banana like fruits.  But this time Hopper came back with another fruit, a human one, a child, this one a little dark skinned girl. A young mother and father of the Indian children had followed the bear back to the tree.

      When they saw their children in the safe arms of Sami they went over to them and held them close. These Miami would have run off with their children again except that Hopper and Sami were hanging close and horses and soldiers could be heard coming near.
     The Indians were terrified. The woods became a wild place.  Gunshots sounded from here and there.

     Quickly Sami nodded for the Indian family to follow her and she and Hopper led them back to the log cabin of Uncle Carl Poe.  By this time, Uncle Carl Poe had returned to the home and he welcomed them all inside, firmly shut the door and drew in the latchstring.     Someone or something must be after this family knot.

     Soon a militia soldier came to the door and asked if runaway Indians had been seen.  The Miami’s of the Wapinepay were being rounded up and ordered to the west. He was under orders from General Tipton to arrest every last one of them. The soldier himself had shot seven head trying to get away.

     The man and woman and their children huddled between Sami’s bed and the wall.  The brave had found Uncle Carl Poe’s wooden knot maul and held it in his hand for a weapon.

      “And are there no Indians in these parts? Is that true?” the soldier asked Uncle Carl Poe looking about as best he could inside the dark cabin.  The man was obviously fatigued from following renegades toward this part of the woods.

     “I vouch for it,” Uncle Carl Poe said.

     “Better still we could have shot them down when we had them in sights. It was close to here.  Some of them are as agile as the deer.”
     Uncle Carl Poe was about to answer further when the soldiers saw the bear inside the log cabin.

     “Is that a real bear?” a militiaman asked.

     Sami was standing by her uncle. “Yes,” she said. “”This is my pet bear.” Hopper came over and joined the confrontation at the log cabin door.  Hopper stood up to smell these newcomers and displayed his full weight which was now close to one hundred sixty pounds and his paws reflected razor sharp claws.

     “Let me take Hopper outside, Uncle,” Sami spoke up.  “No, we have not seen them,” she said to the soldier.

     Hopper nodded in agreement.

     The soldiers had seen enough and backed away.

     Hopper nodded lazily with bared teeth as they left.

     “Is that bear really a pet?” one soldier called back as he was making a quick getaway.

     “Yes,” Uncle Carl Poe said.

     Then the soldier left to join up with his fellow militia.

     The Indians pushed their way out from behind the bed after the militiaman left. They saw the bear and the children clung to the wall while the man picked up a chair and held it in front of him.

     Hopper shook his head and clung to Sami.
    “It is a pet,” Sami said not realizing the Indians could not understand.
     Somehow however they did.
     Then the Indian brave dropped his chair and took his little girl in his arms and whispered something in her ear. 

     Uncle Carl Poe approached him too and the two enemies looked each other in the eyes. But their eyes did not see that the two men were enemies. The two merely saw each other. Each saw another as a head of a household in a forest big enough to be the home of different skin colored families.

     The brave realized that Uncle Carl Poe had sheltered his family from a deadly raid on his village. As weary as he was, he went over to the rough and tumble Uncle Carl Poe, bent down before him and kissed his knees.

     Uncle Carl Poe was not used to such veneration and lifted up the brave, summoned all of his guests to him and took the huddled family into his stocky arms. Uncle Carl Poe perused his guests. The Indian family had nothing. The Indian family had everything.
     Uncle Carl Poe took the hand of the man and led him back toward a chair.  Then he went to his hearth and pulled down venison strips and gave the children each a meal.
      In the days to come after the Indian family had come to feel safer in these woods, Uncle Carl Poe took the family over to where his brother’s log cabin had burned down. It could be rebuilt. It was close.

     Sami and Uncle Carl Poe decided to call the neighbor children the Red Williams family since they had been chosen by Mother Nature to take over the vacant home site of Uncle Carl Poe’s brother William. Some of the boy children of this family go by the name of Williams to this day.

     Few have left this place despite the terrors of the militia raids.

     How could any parents leave a place where their children were saved from the dangers of the woods by a bear and his log cabin mates?


THE HUMMINGBIRD AND THE WOODPECKER

 

     There was only room in the woods for one more bird.  Both a hummingbird and a woodpecker wanted to be that bird.

     In the American way, it was decided that the bird to be allowed to enter the woods should be selected by a majority vote.

     When they were told that they would have to win an election to enter the woods, Hummer, the hummingbird, thought to himself, “I can take down that show-off.”

     The red-headed woodpecker was indeed very colorful and showy.  His head was red and wings and tail black and his under parts were snowy white.  In size he was much bigger than the hummingbird. He weighed about a quarter pound and had a wingspan of a foot and a half.  His beak was an inch and a half long and thick and strong enough to pierce the bark of trees.

     Woody, the Woodpecker, was also sizing up the hummingbird.
     “Tchur-tchur,” he said to himself.  “That hummingbird cannot give me too much competition. He is too skittish and flighty to be a strong opponent.”
     Immediately the birds began to canvas for votes. There were so many votes out there in the woods.  Which candidate would win the majority where there was such disparity among the fish and birds and mammals and reptiles of the New Purchase?

     The vote was to be held at Sami’s house on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November which was Nov. 2, 1819

     In the meantime, the two birds began their campaigns.

     Woody decided to win the votes of all the animals that had his coloring of red, white and black. It was a desperate ploy since the majority of the animals were brownish. 

     He chose as his campaign manager a crafty fox named Woodstock.

     Hummer expected that his obscurity would be a problem and so his primary goal was to raise money and paper the woods with his campaign advertising.  He was looking at needing a lot of money.  He therefore appealed to the magical creatures in the woods who had access to the rich troves of hidden gold and jewels. He chose as his campaign manager a Grinch named Rover.

     It was not long until the whole woods was in a state of uproar.

     Everyone was speculating who would win.

     Everywhere the competing birds went, crowds of people wanted to hear from them.

     The hummingbird wowed the crowds with his great beauty.  When he addressed the crowds he displayed the richness of the rainbow colors in his feathers. In fact all of the animals were impressed by the iridescence of his wings and his facility to change directions.  The hummingbird proved his flight could be right, left, up, down, backwards, and upside down. He could even hover by flapping his wings in a figure-8 pattern.  Also his wings flapped so quickly that he literally hummed along as he flew. Many in the crowds had trouble knowing where he was. Then he was off to display himself before another campaign stop.

     Woody also visited many potential voters.  He went door to door to the settlers and knocked “ratatat” on their doors.  When asked why he should be selected to live in the woods he replied that the woods was composed of trees and he would perch on all of them and rid the protective trees of bugs.

     Rover, the campaign manager for Hummer, began his advertising campaign shortly after he hit up the fairies and gnomes and witches for gold.

     Soon he had the fish and birds and animals wearing buttons saying, “No more taxes. VOTE HUMMER.”  None of the fish enquired to learn that there was no taxation to the animals of the woods.

     On one of the last days of the campaign, Woodstock, the campaign manager for Woody, was able to overhear some confidential comments by Hummer and some wunks.  He quickly recorded Hummer’s comments and soon caused the whole woods to learn that Hummer was attracting votes by saying Woody was trying to buy the election.  The tape claimed Hummer said 47% of the woods animals were dependent upon Mother Nature.
      The elves commissioned polls showing a tight race with the hummingbird with a slight edge of 1%, well within the range of error. Then, convinced that Hummer would win, they left for their mines to dig up more gold to give Rover.

      The campaign managers of each began peppering the woods with rumors.  Rover spread the claim that Woody was really a hawk in disguise and he was wearing a tag that would prove it.  Others were warned Woody was an alien and shouldn’t be on earth let alone an American forest.  Woodstock passed along that Hummer’s iridescent wings were the gift of a cult goddess.

      Mother Nature was aghast that she should be brought into this selection contest. She called Woody and Hummer both in and told them to leave her out of the hubbub.  But the damage to Hummer was done and the whole woods seemed to be going over to Woody.  They were angry that Hummer thought they were all deadbeats.

     Before they left, Mother Nature told both of them that if they lost they were not to say they were defeated because of her gifts.

     Only the great debate was left before the decision was to be made.

     There was little Hummer could do to control the damage.  He would have to rely upon the last event of the campaign. This was the debate between the two candidates.

     It was the grandest event in the history of the woods.  All the cards were on the table. Every creature of the woods focused on this great contest. 

     Sami was chosen as the moderator.

     The animals of the forest gathered and impatiently awaited the arrival of the two birds. The animals were asked not to bark, woof or snarl, tweet or twitter.

    After they arrived, Sami asked each the question, “Why should you be the only new bird chosen to come into our woods?”

     At first it appeared that neither one could present a reason. Then Hummer spoke up. “If you allow me to come into the woods, I will guarantee a job for every one of you.”  Immediately the crowd got dollar signs in their eyes.

     Woody simply perched there and couldn’t think of anything.  People were amazed and the consensus was that he lost the debate by a ton.

     In the last days of the campaign and just before the vote, a great storm struck the forest, The storm caused waves to overflow the Brandywine Crick and wash out varmint holes, dens and burrows.  The floor of the forest was muddy and mired.   

     Since all the animals were so busy with the storm no one remembered to go to Sami’s house to vote.

     In fact, the animals were so used to having both Hummer and Woody in the forest that no one said a word when both of them immigrated into the woods...which turned out to be a good thing.

     The majority ruled.

TRAVELER

    Once when Uncle Carl Poe was down at the Tyner General Store, he came across a meeting of other settlers.  It was later in November. They were planning a town.

     While he was there, a man appeared on horseback and asked them all to gather for Christian services on the next morning. The man’s clothes were rags.

     The store owner had heard of him. He was a Circuit Rider named Lorenzo Dow.
     Then he asked for someone to let him stay at his home for the night. He pointed to one man and then another and finally he enquired of the last man in the room – the storeowner - if he could have lodging on the hard floor and he would not even ask for a blanket so that he could lead worship services the next morning.

     The last man said, “No.” The excuse he offered was that he was having a terrible problem with ants and they were swarming and overwhelming everything.

     The Circuit Rider looked at the store and saw the ants. He addressed them directly. “Brothers and sisters, would you allow me to share these quarters?”

     “Yes, of course we will,” the ants all said.
    “No! No! No!” the store owner said.  “I simply cannot allow anyone, not even a member of the cloth to spend the night in my store and there is no place in my store rooms for me and my family except in the back.”

     Lorenzo Dow was used to such treatment. He was not only very tired but he also needed a bath very badly from all his travels. But this storekeeper was as stubborn as any he had ever met.
      Seeing he was not welcome, Lorenzo Dow mounted his horse and prepared to ride out of the settlement.

     But before beginning his journey away, Lorenzo Dow shook the dirt off his feet as he left town. 

     The ants that lived nearby heard the conversation.

     The dust that he shook off his feet blew into a huge pile and more and more dust joined it.

     As it gathered, the ants began to gather it a speck at a time and form the dust into bricks one on top of another.

     Before morning out of the dust that had been shaken from the feet of this holy man an entire church had been built. It was built so quickly that Lorenzo Dow had not ridden far away.

      When the store owner saw this building, he immediately recognized it as a church, regretted his hasty lack of hospitality and mounted his horse and rode off in the direction taken by the departing rejected holy man.

     Lorenzo Dow was tracked down at the log home of Uncle Carl Poe where Sami had convinced her uncle to give him lodging and the holy man returned to the site of the church where he became its first minister.

     When Lorenzo Dow saw the site, he blessed it and the platted town around it grew and prospered into the town of Greenfield now the county seat of what had once been a forest wilderness. Then he left for other settlements.

     Stories about this circuit rider were circulated long after his departure.
     One night Uncle Carl Poe sat down by the hearth of their log cabin and told Sami and Hopper the legend of the Easter Bunny which had to do with this Circuit Rider.

 

LEGEND OF THE EASTER BUNNY

 

     Once long before Uncle Carl Poe had taken in Sami, there had been another presence in the Hoosier forest. He was like a crazy man. His name was Lorenzo Dow, now remembered as the “Saint of Brandywine Crick.”

     It was a rare night that Lorenzo Dow was not knocking on some log cabin door to seek lodging and teach of the Lord.

     The Indians knew him and loved him as did the frontier folk.  His travels were from the Appalachians to Canada. The black rattlers welcomed his step on their backs and the wolves howled out greetings in the night to herald his approach. If he could find no shelter some evening, a sycamore would wave at him with its branches to summon him and offer a woody hollow in its trunk for lodging.

     But now – after a long and cold winter - the end of the life of Lorenzo Dow was at hand.

     It was Easter and Lorenzo Dow was starving when he fell to the bank of Brandywine Crick in middle Indiana and could not arise. With a shaky hand he dug into the bank to burrow out a shallow cave and crawled in from the weather. He had always suffered from ague since his youth in Connecticut and the shakes were violent and he had not a single morsel of food for a last meal.

     Then along the crick hopped a bunny.

     The bunny noticed the old man and nosed the air.  The bunny took in the sight of the old starving man of God.

     There was only one thing to do.  The rabbit left to gather vegetables for a stew and returned with a pot full.

     Soon the bunny had the pot on a sputtering fire.

     But there was no meat for the stew. 

     The bunny quickly returned with a knife and hopped over to the old man with closed eyes and bent his head.

     The Saint sat up but he could never take the life of such a friend for a stew.

     Instead the old man took the bunny into his arms and lay back down to have a friend to comfort him in his dying.

     There is of course a Spirit of Life at work in America and at the sight of the dying saint holding the bunny that had been willing to give her own life brought huge tears to Her eyes. The tears began to fall down to the bank in the Hoosier woods.

     As they fell, the Glory of God beheld them.

     Then one by one these tears turned into every color of the rainbow and were transformed into the world’s first Easter eggs.  The fell about the dying man as a shower of manna had fallen in the time of Moses.

     The bunny fed the old man from among them.

     Now Jesus Christ happened to see this as the time of the world was cranking along.

     He assumed the shape of a great wind and blew down to the scene and took the bunny into his arms. 

      The nourishment from the eggs brought strength to the old man.

     “Oh, Lord,” Lorenzo Dow said to the vision of Jesus Christ in the wind, “I am at the end of my life but my people on this new continent need to know You after I am gone. This bunny was willing to give its life for me just as you did for your people on the Cross. Let this bunny give bright Easter eggs to the world as a reminder of your love for your people.”
     Jesus Christ smiled and looked first at His frontier friend and then His Holy Vision settled with the love of beautiful air on this bunny and gave the rabbit to breathe of the eternal breath.  Grace settled a basket into the bunny’s grasp and filled it with an inexhaustible supply of Easter eggs.
     Now at Easter time, the “Saint of Brandywine Crick” has passed but the bunny he prayed to carry on still comes with colored eggs to remind American folk of the resurrection and life that comes from faith and hope.

 

 

ANGEL OF EXTINCT SPECIES

 

     One day Sami left the cabin in the early morning hours when Indiana is usually so bright and shining.  This morning, the sky was almost black due to a thick blanket of flocking birds overhead.  The blanket blocked out the usual light of morning or rather modified it into occasional sunny glimpses between swirling and swaying auras. Uncountable hundreds or thousands of passenger pigeons were on wing closely together and appearing as a wave does flowing in a flood over the land.

     Sami called Hopper who suggested they follow the birds to see where they were going.

     One of the birds, their general, saw Sami following beneath and came down to land on her shoulder and confide.

      “What’ll I do? What’ll I do?” he repeated over and over in bird language which Sami could understand.

      His aide was close behind and the general suggested his troops and their followers go to the usual roosting tree.

      Then he followed flying up into the sky with a great flap of his wings.
      Soon he was no more than a blip in the great black cloud of migrant birds.

     It was hard to keep up with this cloud but Sami and Hopper did their best. Not far away the birds drew down out of the sky as droplets of a spray land after intense flight.
     Sami saw them and she and Hopper went to see them. On their way, Sami noticed a beautiful light following the cloud of birds and touching down after they had alighted.

     It was an angel with eyes as bright blue as pure water and blond flowing hair down to the waist of her white glowing gown. Her wings made a slight ruffling sound like a hummingbirds.

     Sami beckoned to the angel but she did not respond.

     Then Hopper yelled up a “Hello!” to her and the angel seemed to hear this call much more distinctly and looked down on the pair, girl and bear, walking along following the flock. She smiled with such compassion and grace that the whole landscape appeared to shimmer.

     “What are you doing?” Sami called up to her.

     The angel looked ahead so as not to lose the direction of the flight of the migrating birds and then dipped her wings to land close beside the inseparable twosome.

     “I am the angel of disappearing species,” she said in a voice as soft as honey.  It was then that Sami could see she had two faces. “I am appointed to monitor their extinction and to draw their lives into the tapestry of eternity.”

     The birds had all taken perches on an immense roosting tree.

     Then, up ahead, at the site of the roost there was a great sound of sawing.

     Sami went to a clearing to observe two frontiersmen at the foot of a tree filled with hundreds or thousands of passenger pigeon birds. The bird’s general had directed his flock to land in a huge tulip poplar tree so tall that it could almost reach the clouds. The birds were oblivious to the sawing.  It was as if they could not hear the sound of the ripping of the wood at the trunk of the tree they were on. The passenger pigeons were riding on a perilous perch.

      Could they not know that the tumbling tree would cause the roosting birds to be crushed beneath the weight of its huge limbs and branches? Then the tree plummeted down in a thrashing crash and many of the passenger pigeons were killed. The settlers set out after the shocked survivors. Those that did not die as a result of the collapsed tree were bludgeoned by the frontiersmen with clubs.

     As the birds were being destroyed, the passenger pigeon general and his aide saw Sami and Hopper.  The general cried out, “You were supposed to tell me what to do.  I am only a bird.”

     This caused Sami to cry and go and beg the frontiersmen to stop.

     “Are you crazy, kid?” 

     “These birds are delicious.”

     At the sight, the angel burst into tears but she was not allowed to intervene.

     Soon she waved her hand into the air to allow Sami to see her other face.

     “Please Sami, come to me,” the angel begged. “I cannot stand to see you so distraught at the course of happenings you cannot control or destinies that are not in your hands. Do you want to see through the eyes of my other face?”
     The angel of extinct species drew out her other eyes and placed them on Sami.

     Here in this very place were all of the creatures of the past worlds of the earth, small in size or great, bacterial or virus, life through plants and insects, onto dinosaurs and the like. They were all in a great heavenly peaceful garden

     “Eden is not gone,” the angel said.  “God is not a God of destruction but one of life.”
      I guarded that place, the Garden of Eden, and prepare it for the eternity to come when the world will be at peace and lions will lie down with lambs. Would you like to visit this garden?”

     Sami told her “Yes” with great enthusiasm so long as Hopper could go too.

     Then Sami and Hopper found themselves in the arms of the angel. They were transported into this wondrous Garden of Eden. The angel said, “Love on these creatures as they will love on you.”
     Sami found a calf of a wooly mammoth and rode it while next to her the pet bear jumped on a saber tooth tiger for a race.

     Then Sami felt the trunk of the beast touching her body to say hello.  Sami loved to look into the mammoth’s wise beady eyes.
     Then it was time for Sami and Hopper to depart this land and the
angel of extinction turned her head from the past to the present.
     Sami and Hopper found themselves back at the home of Uncle Carl Poe and with them was the mammoth calf in between. “Look, Hopper,” Sami said.  “The mammoth came back with us and it walks on its toes!” The little wooly mammoth calf trod so quietly that her footsteps could not be heard because her feet had very soft, spongy heels. Sami and Hopper tried to feed the animal cow’s milk from Sparkles but the calf would not drink.
     The little calf looked about sadly.  She wished to rejoin her herd.
     Something must be done.
     Just then a flock of Carolina parakeets flew into the clearing. They were small green birds whose wings were tipped with individual black markings and yellow heads bearing short hooked beaks. Behind them they observed the Angel of Extinction.
     Sami and Hopper went to the angel and begged her to return the mammoth calf to its mother.
     The angel took the mammoth into a hug and turned her face and the calf disappeared.

     The angel said to them: “You have seen a land alive and dead but it would not exist without love. Love is more powerful than people or angels and is a matter of concession to others and grace. You never needed to know the name of the Garden of Eden to know that there is a place for you in the love of others. Be patient and caring always. Arrogance and bragging are not love. God will take care of you.  This world may practice injustice and harm but remember there is another and until you enter it you should give your lives over to never failing love.”
     Then the angel looked quickly at the little bear.
     She went over to the bear and hugged it.  “Hopper I have always loved you black bears. Now I must go,” she said. Then she said to Hopper, “You and your fellow black bears will be seeing me soon enough.”    

HOPPER’S NEW HOME

 

           Hopper didn’t know why he was doing it but he began to start collecting branches and then adding withering leaves to the pile.

     Hopper felt like he was becoming such a bother.  With winter coming, he noticed how the nuts and acorns and berries were gone.  Uncle Carl Poe had so many other obligations and work!  He shouldn’t have to worry about where Hopper’s next meal was going to be coming from.  The best thing for Hopper to do was sleep on through until the next spring season.

     Whenever Hopper piled up den stock, Sami brought it back to the cabin.

     Finally, Uncle Carl Poe said, “Sami, I think that bear of yours is preparing his own home for the winter.”

      It was fall and high in the sky, a few of the golden birds flying over the Hoosier state began to lose their glitter and dip down from time to time in their daily course of flight.

      Then one day Sami was playing outside the log cabin when she fell into a deep sleep.

      In a dream she was told that she had been chosen.

      It was to be Sami who must guard the precious eggs of the golden birds during the winter.  She must keep them safe and ensure the hatchings of their young.

     Sami learned in the dream that every year one child in the world was given the responsibility.

     When Sami awoke from her dream she shook her head in disbelief.  Had she really had such a dream?  Golden birds?  What were they?

     But almost immediately as if being led by an unseen hand she was led through the Hoosier woods to a special tree and there as she observed the sight golden birds began descending from the hot summer sky overhead.  Each landed on a branch of the tree and deposited a tiny pearl shaped egg.  Then the mother bird expired as a flame does which is extinguished between fingers and loses its energy.

     Sami tried to watch as the legion of the golden birds swooped out of the sky to disappear after each left a tiny egg in the tree.

     “We must stay out here and save the eggs,” she told Hopper.

     As the birds descended and were lost the earth began to be noticeably cooler.

     Sami gathered the tiny eggs into her hands and rushed them back to her log cabin home and kept them securely under her bed.

     Hopper treated them as gently as he could. He tried to help but his mind was elsewhere. He was so busy these days.  Every waking moment was spent gorging on carbohydrate-rich berries and everything else he could find.  He was bloating out at about thirty pounds a week.

     Then Hopper told Sami, “It is time for me to make my own resting place for the winter.  I must leave you Sami and go to my own quarters.” There was the saddest look on the bear’s face.  Little tears were falling from his eyes.

     “Can I help you Hopper?” Sami asked.
     “No,” Hopper said.  “I must do this on my own.  It is a bear thing to do.”
     Then Hopper began lumbering about looking here and there.

     Hopper began feeling the need to dig out a home.  For awhile he searched around the site of Uncle Carl Poe’s cabin for a place to hibernate. There was a nice hollowed out tree that caught his attention. No, it was too far away from Sami. Then he remembered where his own cave had been in the rocky moraine where he was born. But that was definitely too far away.

     He decided he could not stay far from Sami even to hibernate and he began to dig under the log cabin. 

      Uncle Carl Poe resisted at first but then went along with it so long as his puncheon floor didn’t cave in.

     Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin grew from the ground logs up and Hopper chose to dig under them.  This was a big, big job since Hopper had become a big, big bear.  The cavern was almost five feet wide and two feet high. He would make his den beneath the bed for the winter under the bed of his beloved Sami. Soon he had raked leaves, twigs and plants into the den to form a nest.

      And if she really needed his call, he promised her he would be there for her to awake from even the deepest of sleeps.

      Hopper was so different looking now than he had been in the fall.  He had inches and inches of fat and fur thick and warming instead of his baby fuzzy coat.

     Then Hopper entered the narrow opening of his den.

 

     On the very next day after Hopper entered his winter den, there was a knock at the door.
     When Sami opened the door there was a great shining light and out of that light emerged a very handsome beardless man about six feet tall wearing a purple robe. His skin glowed like the sun gleaming and his chest and arms were muscled and taut. The expression on his face was intelligent and radiant. His eyes were golden glinted. Behind him was a chariot from which he must have disembarked.  Four winged golden horses were harnessed to the chariot.

     The man got right to the point.

     “What have you done with the eggs of my sunbirds?”  the man asked.

     Sami was taken aback.  The man was acting like he thought she had stolen the eggs out of some malevolent intention. 

     “They are under my bed,” Sami said innocently.  “But who are you?”
     “I am Helios,” the man said.  “Those sunbirds belong to my flock and their eggs are mine.”
     “How do I know you own those sunbirds?’ Sami asked.  “Birds don’t belong to anybody.  They are just birds that fly as they do.”
     Helios was getting impatient.  It was clear he was used to getting his own way.
     He burst into the log cabin and immediately the inside of the log cabin began glowing with intense light and the shine was so bright that nothing but outlines of objects in the log cabin could be seen.

     Where were you in September when the sunbirds eggs were laid and the raccoons tried to gather and eat them?
      Helios answered,  “I was in the Islands of the Hesperides and I did not know about this.  How were they saved?  I must provide a reward.”
     Hopper spoke up.  “It does not matter.  What does matter is that you consider yourself the guardian of the sunbird eggs so that the sun may arise and set over the earth and yet you were not there for the sunbirds.”
     Helios stood back in his glory.  “How dare you challenge me?  I am a titan.  I am behind all of the elements and I watch over my flocks of sunbirds.”
     “Oh, no you don’t,” Sami said.  “I did not see you when the birds hatched in the spring.  Nor did I see you helping out when a beaver stole the last sunbird egg to hatch it in their lodge. Why didn’t you help Hopper and me? It was left up to us to assist Timmy the Beaver in rectifying that situation. You say you protect the sunbirds but do you?  Don’t you realize summer was almost stolen from the earth because of your oversight and neglect of these birds?”
     Hopper interjected. “We didn’t even know about you until just now.”

     Helios stammered out, “I did the best I could for these birds.  I have many responsibilities. I am the overlord over a palace far away.”
     Sami said: “We don’t care how important you are. You should look after your dependents if you claim them.  And even if you think you can justify not being around when they need you that is no excuse.”
     Helios stood back.  He had a look of shame on his face. He realized he had been an absent caregiver and that this was not okay.

     Sami went on.  “Now you come here wanting to see the sunbird eggs that you were supposed to be protecting and raising and nurturing and you have never fulfilled your duty as a caregiver.”
     “What can I do?” Helios asked Sami.
     “I will release the eggs to you that are under my bed for safety but only if you will promise to do better as a caregiver.  Don’t just react to emergencies. Be there for your dependents. Ask yourself: If someone wished me well, would they act like I do?  What you do makes a difference.”
     “Okay,” Helios said. “I will do what matters the most and look after my responsibilities.”
      “I am not done, Helios,” Sami said. “You simply cannot look after a dependent and not try to give them all the love they deserve. I don’t mean to spoil them by giving each egg a palace or anything like that.  That would only be giving the dependent a thing and not love.  Loving is being close to their hearts with their welfare in mind.  These eggs will one day hatcvh into the birds that will illuminate the whole earth.  You could be an important influence on young lives.”
     Helios said, “I always have expected much out of them.  It is just that I have not loved and attended to them as a caregiver should.”
      Hopper stepped in front of Helios and waved his finger at the Bright One’s nose. “Why don’t you become involved in the lives of your dependents? You laze around in a palace and you do not even know if they are in danger. Being an involved caregiver means much more than that.  You should take flight with them and cross the sky; observe the earth in its entire morning splendor and watch the shadows of the evening perform miracles of imagery on the continents below.”
     Helios nodded his head.  What a great idea.  Hereafter he would drive his golden chariot with his flock of sunbirds on their daily trip around the globe. It would be a great challenge to be there to see the sky brighten and fade each day. The sunbirds had been without the supervision of their caregiver far too long.

     Sami and Hopper conferred.  They decided to give Helios back his responsibility for the sun and its sunbirds.
     Sami went to her bed and pulled out from beneath it a skin containing the safeguarded sunbird eggs.
     Helios took them carefully into his arms with thanks. He looked at the eggs and smiled. He wanted to return to hear their borning chirps when they obtained their freedom from their egg and felt the fresher air in their tiny lungs. He wanted to lift them into the air as they learned to fly and watch their welcome from the flock. These things and many more would be his future challenge.  Helios returned to his chariot out in front of Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin and ascended into the Hoosier sky.  Then he went to a tree where the sunbird eggs could be nested for the winter. He placed each one lovingly in its nest.
     As for the safety of the eggs?
     Helios decided to heed Sami’s advice and he promised to personally be with his sunbirds and ordered one of his household staff, a man named Argus, to watch over their eggs. Argus was especially suited for guard duty in that he had eyes all over his body, front and back, not just on his head.  He had eyes on his arms and legs, and even fingers and toes.  There was nothing that occurred around Argus that he did not see.  Argus’s instructions were that if the sunbird eggs were in even the slightest danger, Helios was to be immediately called upon.
     As it turned out it was a good thing that Helios was given the eggs to be under his care. Sami’s destiny lay elsewhere.

THE COLD ONE

 

     Sami hated it with Hopper in hibernation. She had lost her best friend.

     Winter was arriving and the Hoosier woods was taking on an arctic look. The chilling Hoosier clouds fell from the sky and engulfed the land.  Freezing fog settled over the forest turning it into enigmatic sights.  Mists and ominous steam covering the snow drifted woods or icy ground. When this happened, the things of the earth became less clear, blurry and baffling.

     Who was there to play with under such conditions?  Sami was facing a winter without her pet bear.

     As one particular morning wore on Sami could simply not stay inside Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin. She needed to get outside and encounter her neighborhood. There was something magical about the changing scenes and Sami trudged further and further out into this new mist ominous place.
     Up ahead she heard a strange sound in the woods and when she fought her way through the newly fallen snow in the icy reaches of the woods she came across what appeared to be a new friend from the north.

     In the far northern regions near the poles of the earth where ice covers the land, there live life forms unknown elsewhere.  Almost all take the color of the snow as their skin color and disappear in that way from hunters or explorers.

     There are others however who rely upon the ice for sustenance, consuming it as their primary meal. They live on frozen rime and slush varieties and worship Ymir, their ancestor, a gigantic progenitor from whose substance they came.

     For the most part these ice consuming creatures look very much like others but they do not live in the temperate regions. The exception is when winters arrive and the Cold Ones, as they are called, migrate south with the ice and snow of winter, and appear among the general population.

     Ice is of course a tasteless commodity for the most part and few Cold Ones appreciate the monotony of eating a single boring food all the year around.

     Many await winter to fatten up and follow winter’s ice down from the poles and into the realm of other like creatures in search of more appetizing fare.

     The danger of the Cold Ones is that they diversify their diets wherever possible by capturing the creatures of the forest, to include its settlers, awaiting for them and luring them close to freeze them and consume them according to their ways.

     Their eyes and skin are pure white. They have boundless energy though tiny particles of solid ice circulate instead of blood.  Cold ones have no hearts.  To live they must continuously eat ice which drives circulation. Teeth are exterior as picks to hold icy objects and muscular jaw ice cutting saw teeth that move back and forth as frozen objects are reduced in size for circulation within the huge gutty bodies.  Once the reduced  ice blocks are within, their throats contain chopping chambers below to the stomach where the tiny blocks of ice one on top of another are broken down chemically into HTP which provides the energy of the ice creatures to move. Around humans their teeth are withdrawn within wide, friendly appearing faces and their clothes merely make them appear to be heavy people.

       What Sami did not know was that the Cold One in front of her was not a playmate.    

Every Cold One has lungs but for killing purposes.  The lungs of the Cold Ones blow out freezing air at such a high velocity that the object blown on instantly freezes and due to its low temperature attracts the moisture of the air around it so that it becomes encased in ice until the Cold One slowly moves toward it to consume it.
       As Sami approached this Cold One she noticed quills in its face. In a nearby tree was a two foot porcupine entirely encased in ice. Sami noticed that the Cold One was not bleeding but it had apparently blown freezing water which turned to ice on this porcupine eating bark in the tree which releases quills as all forest dwellers know. The little rodent still had an expression of surprise on its face from realizing a blast with the freezing deadly breath of the Cold One was heading its way. The porcupine had barely had time to return fire at the Cold One by discharging its quills into the Cold One’s face.
     There was nothing to be done for the porcupine but the Cold One was in obvious pain.
     Sami was always attracted to creatures in pain but the sight she observed confused her.
     As she drew nearer the Cold One, Sami began to feel a drop in temperature of the already bitterly wintry air. Sami was wearing her warmest clothing but the closer she got to the Cold One the more freezingly chilly she felt.  One impulse was to rush back and get back inside Uncle Carl Poe’s warm log cabin.
    But as she was hanging on what to do, the Cold One’s cries of pain stopped her running away.
     The Cold One was begging for help to remove the quills of the porcupine from its face.
     The voice of a Cold One is hard to ignore.  Its voice changes frequently, from extreme high to extremely low. “Help me! Help me!” the Cold One called out to Sami. The speech was as slow as the movement of the creature. “I promise I will not harm you.”
     “Who are you?” Sami asked.
     “My name is Heloise,” the Cold One said.  “I am dying.  My brains are escaping through the tiny holes of the porcupine shafts.”
     Despite the cold, Sami went over to the Cold One who sat down in the ice without the appearance of any discomfort from the contact.
     Sami began removing the quills from the Cold One’s face.
To an ordinary individual, the quills would have been skin wounds but cold air was sizzling out of the wounds of this Cold One.

     As Sami pulled out the quills from the head of the Cold One, the Cold One did not seem to be recovering at all but instead continued to droop and then fall.

     The brain of the Cold One had mostly escaped.  Every sizzling puff escaping from the quill holes contained precious memory sequences of pressurized cold gases.  These gases constituted the brain of the creature.
     As the icy living form ended her life, she began singing out a song of praise to Ymir, her ice ancestor, which became a wailing song that she be forgiven her sins. With a last gaspy effort, the Cold One sat up and began to desperately try to blast out from the earth near her a hole in the icy ground.  She was attempting to construct an emergency nest where she fell and blew into it to freeze it.

     It was no use.  Her life force in her head had escaped from the tiny punctures of her last kill.

     As she was dying she looked at Sami and begged her to save her child. “Find my child’s father, “she pleaded. “His name is Abelard. He will know what to do.”

     Then she addressed her child and told it, “Lucy, my darling child. I know you are alive and can hear your dying mother. I am sorry but you cannot be born in this earthly world.  You are a child of the god Ymir and must be born according to the ways of your race. You must do as Sami tells you no matter what.  She is a kind girl and will not abandon you or leave you desolate.”  The dying woman’s body shook in response.  The child had heard its instructions on survival.  The child prepared to latch her fate to Sami’s care.

     What appeared to be an egg rolled out from beneath the white robe of the dead Cold One named Heloise. The egg was the size of a normal human baby but it was within an egg and was making no attempt to get out.  The eggshell was somewhat different than a hen egg or the run of the mill bird egg.  It was actually more wobbly and its surface was somewhat netted.  The strangest thing about it was that it had no resemblance to its mother except that it could protrude a set of the most beautiful blue eyes out from its insides at any point on the egg to see what was going on. Then it was too late and the Cold One died.

     On the other hand Sami did not know what to do. “What child?” Sami asked herself. She saw only an egg, not a child. “What Father?”

     The Cold One lay dead before Sami.  She could say no more or answer any questions.

     Sami went over to the egg.  Had the Cold One had intended to deposit this egg into the cold earth for shelter until it hatched?

     Should Sami cover the egg to help keep it frozen as the mother died?

     What should she do about this egg?

     Sami decided to ask the egg.
     The little sweet blue eyes of the egg protruded out of the egg when Sami addressed it.
     “Do you know what I am to do with you?” Sami asked.
     “I don’t want to be any trouble to you,” the egg said. 
     Sami was very surprised that this egg could talk.  She saw no mouth.  Apparently the egg’s mouth stayed inside even when the eyes came out to see what was going on.

     “Can I help you in some way?” Sami asked.

    “Oh yes, you can,” the egg said.  But she said no more.
     There was nothing for guidance.  The egg was just there in front of her.  It was waist high and had changed its form from a more eggy textured appearance into something more like a ball. Beneath it Sami saw tiny appendages start to emerge on the snow enabling the egg to move.  As it moved the appendages, or legs, sprouted at different locations to encounter the frozen ground.  This egg began to move toward Sami on tiny legs. Its shape also changed to sort of a rounded one only on the top to an ovalish looking thing with a flat surface to hug the ground and permit its emergent tiny feet to touch the ground and more speedily move.       
     Sami gave up and started walking away from this strange encounter.  She intended to go home.  Her adventure was over.

     But as she walked away she heard something trotting along behind her on its tiny legs.  It was the egg which began to follow her.

     Sami tried to run away from it but it only zipped toward her faster than ever. It was a speedy egg. Sami tried to hide from it but the egg found her.  Sami made a break for her log cabin as it came into view, but the egg was not to be denied.  With a giant roll and short flight into the air the egg burst at Sami and Sami unconsciously opened her arms and held it.  She could not let go.  The egg would not let her go.

     “Help. Help” Sami cried out. “This egg has ahold of me!” She was calling for Hopper who always came to her when she called.  But Hopper was hibernating and he could no longer help his friend in woods emergencies.

     Little did Sami know that she had been captured by a strange white corpuscle, not an egg that was circulating in another dimension in a frost giant’s body.
     Then as Sami was holding the egg she felt herself feeling dizzy, lightheaded and unsteady.  It was like being out of balance or in disequilibrium. Was she turning?  She could not tell. Was she spinning?  Who knows!
     The problem was that she was in motion but couldn’t tell where it came from except that she was holding what she thought was a Cold One egg. The egg was incapacitating her own willpower. There was no feeling of real sickness or nausea.  The feeling was being helplessly in the clutches of some overwhelming influence.  It was the egg. She had entered an unbalancing new and strange dimension. Immediately she found herself being confined within a tubelike chamber but it was one which had a stream or tide that was carrying her along.

     She could not drop the egg and run.
     The egg had taken control of her and held her more than she held it. The egg had taken her into its own space and its own world.  But what world could this be?

     Sami and the egg moved along at a rapid speed and soon they found themselves inside another chamber which was thumping and pumping. Sami sensed all of this.  She could not seem to be touching anything except being held by the power of the egg. The motion which contained her poured out and Sami felt herself gliding through a sea.  Within the sea were bones that seemed to take on the form of giant boulders and rocks.   Sometimes out of these there were crags and other times the bones seemed to rise above the waves and form huge expanses of continental lands.  All of it was in a rotating vision from a tumbling head over heels perspective over and over.

     She found herself in terrible agitation and continued to get light headed.  It was as if she had laid down but then got up too quickly.
     Then she found themselves lurching forward and soon they felt great rushes of air. Huge blasts of icy wind were crashing in on them.  Could Sami be in a giant’s lungs?

The grasp of the Cold One egg would not lessen even in the tremendous blows of winds.

     In this dim light Sami was able to discern that there were other white objects like the egg in this strange system.  They too were capable of adhering to foreign substances as a white corpuscle does in a normal little girl’s blood system.

     It was very dark but Sami could feel others within this pipeline.  At every point Sami could see out and there were huge vistas of the universe and sky and a land beneath and an ocean. The path was going through a sky shaped like a skull and in the sky clouds like brains were floating about. Sparks were flying and Sami thought they might be stars.

     Nothing was clear except that Sami was in an alternate world.

     Sami looked overhead and heard a huge wolf howling with excitement and hunger at a sight before its eyes and then a cry as a giant beautiful creature appeared at the edge of the scene.  She looked like Nicki Minaj only much larger. She was racing after the sunbirds across the sky attempting to catch them.  She was reaching out to try to grab at least one of them.  Finally she did snatch one of the golden birds by a stick leg and swung it around apparently to use its heat to thwart a terrible wolf following her and nipping at her heals.  The sunbird squawked and struggled free and the giant lady Nicki continued running toward the birds trying to catch another.

     Sami was in nightmare mode!  Her nose felt stuffy and she missed having fresh air to breathe. She could only seem to be seeing through runny fluids of some kind. How could she wake up?  She had never had such a dizzy spell. It was so like another and stranger reality than she had ever known. She was changing from position to position in lightning time. She had had no idea she could do a back handspring but she could.  All the time this white body had ahold of her for dear life.

     Then she heard a mighty roar and it was the sound of a voice. 

     “Who is it in my bloodstream?” The voice shouted.

     Several of the blobs of the Cold Ones around her were screaming, “It is Ymir, our ancestor, waking up!"

     Sami felt herself arising into the air in her pipeline and she felt herself moving around inside the body of a giant frost monster while looking out of its strange body she could see tsunamis on the seas composed of planets and sun systems below.  Eventually the giant returned to the ground and huge snores arose in the air before Ymir returned to sleep.
     Then Sami got a glimpse through the frost monster’s crystalline skin that she was at the top of the universe, a place of great trees with black trunks like giant’s eyelashes. The roots of the trees were spread like orbits in every direction with nodules on them of galaxies and hairs toward stars and planets.

     Others in the pipeline made contact. Everyone was going with the flow.

     “Who are you?” Sami asked one of the closer ones.

     The egg did not answer. Sami asked another question, “Where are we?”

     This time the thing said, “We are in the blood of our ancestor Ymir but after our birth on the earth and to the world we are Cold Ones who live in icy places awaiting birth.”
     “Is anyone here the father of this child?” Sami asked. She pointed to the white blob that she could not get rid of in her arms.

     They all shook their blobby heads and the eggs said “No!” too.

     “Help! Help!” Sami cried again.  It appeared that there was no way she would ever escape from her predicament.  The odds for her salvation from this tubular prison were beyond rectifying by anyone short of a hero.      
     Around the flush of the liver where huge numbers of cold ones were gathered, Sami saw someone who looked very much like Uncle Carl Poe.  “What are you doing in Ymir?” Sami asked as the man approached. Before he could answer, Sami ran to this familiar person although it was difficult to maneuver with the white egg clutching at her.

     Just as she was able to reach Uncle Carl Poe, the personage in front of her magically changed with a reappearance.  The new visage was of a powerfully built man of mature age with a bristling red beard and fierce frightening eyes. On his head was a winged helmet.  In his hand was a hammer. He wore a tunic of leather with a golden belt and tight fitting boots to the knees with knee guards above.
      A gasp came from a nearby form.  “It is the guardian thunderer.”
     Sami asked his name and he responded, “I am Thor.  You would not have come to me if you had not seen me as Uncle.”

     Then Thor grabbed at the egg holding onto Sami and a great fight began.  The egg resisted every touch of Thor and beat at him with its emergent tiny legs. The egg tried to make itself so slippery with icy water from within that Thor would lose his grasp. Thor was however able to encase the egg within his two hands and with a mighty scream of victory, he pulled the egg off of Sami and cast it far away.
     As Thor helped her extricate herself from the white corpuscle, other eggs started moving toward Sami. One would reach her and try to hold on to her and as each did so, Thor would pull it off.  Hundreds of them were swarming toward her and then thousands.
     Thor shouted, “Stand back, Sami” as he took hold of the hammer held by a thong at his waist.  Then he loosened it and as he did so it began an encirclement of Sami and Thor with such speed that any Cold One trying to enter the space of the two was cast aside.
     Then Thor yelled, “We are going to have to get out of here!”

     The white corpuscles gave up trying to enter the space shielded to Thor and Sami by the hammer.  But as they drew back, one of them, the leader of the band of Ymir’s white blood cells called them to gather in a thick mucousy cloud.
     They were planning a new attack on Sami and Thor.
     Thor tried to maneuver closer to the walls of the bloodstream to break out with his knife but each time he failed.  The walls of Ymir’s bloodstream were holding. There was no way out of Ymir’s confinement of blood.
     The white blood cells continued to assemble in a huge battle array.  Their leader urged them on. “We must purify the blood of our god, Ymir,” the leader of the white blobs insisted.
     He had a banner in his hand which he was waving stating “Fight infection!” The massing white blob warriors began to chant this as a battle cry.  They raised their tiny appendages in the air with angry waves at Sami and Thor.
     Just as the massive army began to move closer, one of the blobs rushed between the contestants.
     It was Heloise’s egg, Lucy. After she had been torn from Sami’s arms she had grown and was almost ready to be born out into Ymir’s earthly alter ego world as a Cold One.
     She was able to draw the attention of the leader as she rushed over to him.
     “Are you Abelard?” the Cold One egg asked of the leader of the white blood cells.
     “Yes,” he said.
     “Who are you?” the man said.
     “I believe I may be your daughter,” the egg said.  “Did you know you were soon to be the father of a child?”
     “No,” the leader said.
     “Did you not know my mother Heloise?” the egg asked the white blob.
     “Oh yes,” Abelard said.  “She was the only woman I ever loved. I had a choice to make.  I could either live with her or return to accept the monarchy of our family among the white corpuscles in the blood stream of Ymir, our god.”
     The two white blood cells hugged and the raging mob was temporarily restrained by the sight of their leader and his unknown child reuniting.
     It was then that the little egg asked her father if he might relent his anger against Sami.  “This girl brought me here to our kingdom,” she told her father.
     Abelard looked at the twosome of Sami protected by Thor within the encircling force of Thor’s hammer.  His look changed from the visage of a fierce warrior to the look of a grateful father.
     Abelard called out to Sami.  He said, “Thank you for facilitating my reunion with my daughter, Lucy.  You may go free.”
     Sami heard all of this with great joy.  She so wanted to return to her log cabin home with Uncle Carl Poe.
     Sami called out, “How can I get home?”
     “You may return the way you came into Ymir’s blood: in the embrace of my daughter.  When a white blood cell is born it may enter your world as a Cold One.”
     Just then, the egg preparing to hatch into a Cold One went over to Sami and Sami willingly allowed herself to be embraced by the white blood cell. As she was attached, the egg burst forth in energy.
     Waving goodbye to Thor, Sami felt herself being lifted out of Ymir’s, the giant’s, blood stream.  Immediately she was back in the cold Hoosier forest.
     As she thanked the newly born Cold One, Sami also looked up into the sky.
     There was a fog rainbow overhead.  On the end of it she saw Thor who was returning to his home in Asgard.  He gave her a mighty wave and Sami blew a kiss to him. When she entered the log cabin, she observed Uncle Carl Poe drawing close to her and hugging her tightly.
     “Where in the world have you been?” Uncle Carl Poe asked her.

 

MEMORIAL

 

     The Last One of the Last Ones went to his computer. He sat quietly there in his own sweet breath as air and felt motions from every direction as gentle soothing melodies. There was no chill or warmth to the place, only the feel of sanctity and power.  Light shone more brilliantly than the sum of suns and created a roar of shimmering activity.

     It took only a touch to enliven the computer screen. The holograms were luminously visible and arrayed in glossy brightness and radiance. The machine was of course “On.”  He left it running these last numberless days.  His parents had given him no other instruction other than to turn the machine “Off” when he, the last of them, died.

     He quickly closed a default simulation of a conical parallel universe relating energy and momentum and chose another from a dropdown menu.  It was one of a vast array of parallel universe models. His people had constructed these universes over their last years as games to occupy their existence and exercise their indomitable intelligence. These UNIVERSES proceeded out of the wave dynamics of the computer system much in the way that quarks can constitute a rainbow.

     His computer was filled with numberless cookies of his games.

     He selected his favorite universe.

     This particular simulation had a lattice nature with bounds of four dimensions one of which was time.  It was his favorite. Simulating conceptions within the universes kept his restless mind busy. He had nothing else to do.

     Somehow or other The Last One had discovered that this particular simulation had resulted in life within the computer model. How that had happened The Last One did not know.  Nor did he know why it would have continued to exist.   

     Try as hard as he could, he had never been able to find any joy in any of the models other than in the grids of this particular lattice simulation. That joy was compounded beyond any other feeling that The Last One had ever had.

     He tried through the pain of this, his last day, to remember when he had discovered that there was life in this game model.

     Suddenly his computer had suffered a breakdown in locality. Somehow there had been a mis-transformation of energy/mass.

     That day he so enjoyed exploring that strange chance circumstance.  It was the best day of his life.

     That day had resulted in an anomaly producing an error message which he decided to investigate.

     The Last One inserted himself into the game and before him was a human being.

     The confrontation event was totally frightening to both.
     To the man standing on the shores of the River Chebar, the Last One came as if the heavens opened and before him sat a being on a flying chariot throne. The creature was like a whirlwind, an explosion of lightning as from a thundercloud in the sky bearing rain, living forms of people, eagles, oxen and indescribable angelic with wings touching, wheels cutting each other bearing eyes and stars in a firmament.  It was facing all points of the compass. It sparkled and had a single rigid leg. The whole appearance was as burning coals of fire.

     It was obvious that the man was not companionable. Nevertheless, the memory of him had remained.

     Now on The Last One’s last day, he was drawn to enquire about this strange life form he had encountered.

     He placed his cursor on the search for spiral galaxies and he settled in on the View hash and intensified the magnification down from an area of the Milky Way disc and zoomed out 25,000 light years from its center to a small solar system.  Then he further magnified his screen to display the system’s third planet.  Finally he adjusted down even further to hover over the earth and visualize its quanta through his cosmic ray hyperlink.

     There on his screen was a child, Sami, and her small furry brown companion, Hopper. They were romping and playing in a small opening in a forest of immense trees growing along a bubbling crick.

     The Last One was fascinated at the rollicking.

     What was the meaning of this life form?  Was there intelligence? If so or not does it matter? There was no indication that this child would have known of even the basics of QED’s.

     He watched her from his screen.

     What was she doing? She and her bear were playing games. They were not games such as The Last One played.  His games had been much like working through nightmares.  This girl and her bear loved each other.  The little girl opened her mouth to laugh and The Last One noticed two missing front teeth.  Her dress had rips in it. Then Uncle Carl Poe appeared to call them into dinner.  The little girl’s face beamed with gratitude for the Uncle’s sausage, eggs and cheese dinner and she bowed her head when he said grace before they ate.  Then the Last One focused on this “Uncle” adult who was apparently sheltering little ones, teaching them, caring for them, treating them as his own.  The girl was asking for boots like her uncle wore.  In his mind the man was saying, “This little girl is going to go someplace important in the world.  She lights up the room for anyone.” Yes, this child was full of enthusiasm and cheer.
     Could this little girl sense his attention? The Last One forgot his pain for a moment as he looked at Sami. Unaccountably, Sami flashed a big grin and waved as if to him alone.
     The Last One thought to himself, “This Sami is fearless about her life.”   The little girl was always smiling, with a great sense of humor, unfailingly polite, witty, hardworking, incredibly affectionate, fair and thoughtful to others.  She was learning to ride her horse, Mindy. She had never had a visit by Santa Claus, or taken classes, or danced.  She was simply wiggly and smiley. She was always an early riser and disregarded the weather to go outside and play no matter what. Her eyes were always shining. There was no adventure she would not fearlessly pursue with her pet bear on Brandywine Crick.
     From that encounter on, the Last One remembered inserting the games he had played with Sami and her bear. He remembered the mice who were goblins and woods fairies, Harpies and their ogre mates, the bowl of the Fates lost in the swirling waters of the crick, wunk holes and angels, Indians, a living candy bush, a man who ate logs, a deer which would lead a rebellion and a man who turned into a tree branch, and so many other instances and diversions.          

          How good it seemed. As his last day alone was ending, his mind returned to this child in this strange Hoosier woods whose companionship he had desired for his dull and lamentable ending life. What if he himself could have been a parent? It was a new and powerful feeling. He could not control himself. Had he always felt love but refused to recognize it? The emotion was too much. Before he could restrain himself he pasted himself back to his own lonely palace with its myriad rooms.

     The pain returned beyond avoidance. The Last One was fighting tears and could barely think. Before dying, The Last One remembered his parents.  They had called him “smart as a whip but a little bit rambunctious.’ His father called him, “Our rock.” It had been ages since he thought of them. He also remembered their order to “TURN OFF THE COMPUTER AT THE TIME YOU DIE.”  He had learned so much since their deaths. Perhaps he should not refer to their passings as deaths.  They were him from the baby step from movement to matter and none of them had ever been lost so long as he lived. He himself, in some strange way, was their embodiment and their crazy but constant relationships and proofs.    

     He reached over to turn off the computer and then remembering Sami and those like her with a last smile he dropped the mouse without the click on the “Shut Down.” 
     Instead with his last effort, he pressed the “Insert” and entrusted himself to the random functions of his own creation. The program encountered a young Jewish girl seeking the untold burden of union with God. A promise was heard throughout the universe to bear a child. Then a most welcome sound was heeded.
     “Joseph,” Mary cried out in stable in Bethlehem, “my time has come.”

 

EARL OF CHESTER

 

       Thanksgiving Day had arrived.  It was November 25th and another very cold day, with air very crisp and refreshing. It was the kind of day when nothing feels warm and lips look gray and a day to sit by a warm hearth fire. That is what Uncle Carl Poe was doing when there was a knock on the door of his log cabin.  With the weather so cold, the door did not open easily and froze tightly from time to time.

       Outside was Ben, the stock boy from the General Store, and behind him were two militiamen from the garrison of the old Indian soldier outpost at Brookville and two other fancy dressed horsemen.

       The man at the door had frostbite and his face had turned bright colors. 

      It was a man very unfamiliar with his surroundings.

      He introduced himself to Uncle Carl Poe as Francis Stuart but Uncle Carl Poe recognized him immediately. He knew of Francis Stuart from his life in Britain before immigrating to America.  He was the Earl of Chester.  He looked every year of his age of 60. He was a royal. His mother was a sister of Henry IX of England and Scotland.
       He had with him a servant named Oliver and two militiamen from the Army post at Brookville.  One wore the red sash around his waist of an officer of the American army’s Indian corps.

        After showing him in, the man sat by the fire for ever so long before he could get rid of his shivers. He held his hands to his face to warm it up.

      Francis Stuart had made the trip to America against the advice of his physicians.  He suffered pleurisy of the left side and his breathing was hard.  He had been told his lung capacity was reduced to a quarter. He had suffered the hardship of an ocean journey and an exhausting trip half across the American continent out of love and commitment to a daughter who had run from his home to marry a vagabond dreamer of a man who had lived and died too young for any to bear much of a memory. He had risked his life on the chance of finding a lost granddaughter. The members of the Stuarts were known for such romanticism and desperation.

      Of the two militia the young one, a heavily bearded tall man was wearing a floppy felt hat with a plume stuck in its hatband .  The other wearing the red sash around his waist was an officer. He stated he had come along as a courtesy on the terms of a letter from the American Secretary of State John Quincy Adams to render due assistance to a “Friend of America” from the English monarchy of the mother country.
     “It was so icy riding down the hills,” was about all he could say at first.

     The old man shook his beard which was white and uncut down his front. His eyes gleamed.

     Sami was by the fire.  She had a stick that was burnt at the end and she was outlining pictures of Hopper, now hibernating, on the hearth.  It was clear that she was sadder than she had ever been.

     The man asked for the child to come to him.  Then he opened a letter with a hand drawn picture of a little girl.

      “I understand my daughter is dead, but would you be the little girl in this picture?" the Earl asked Sami.

     Sami looked at it.

     "Who drew this sir," she asked.

     “My only daughter and she sent it to me for Christmas of the last year.  She mentioned she had a child. She called the child Sami and said this child lived in the St. Mary’s land near the Tyner General Store.”

     Sami stood as the man asked by raising his hands upward.

      As he looked from picture to little girl, all restraint in him dissolved and he rushed to hold his grandchild in his lonely arms.

      “I am here to take this look at my grandchild.  Look at you,” he said. “What is that around your neck my dear.” He reached out to look at Sami’s pearl necklace. “That is what I mean.  You are wearing the pearl I gave to your mother when she was a child. That proves it.  Yes! You are my grandchild.” He took the child into his arms. He was laughing in a measure beyond measure.

     “Do I have a grandmother?” Sami asked.
     “No, the Countess has been dead for many years,” the old man said. “I am not young either, he said. I was born in 1857 and well remember the whole event of your Revolution here in America.  It broke our spirits highly.”

      He turned to Uncle Carl Poe. “May I stay here a few days, Sir?”

     Uncle Carl Poe could not refuse although he had little room to house a royal guest.    
    Uncle Carl Poe could not help liking his guest.  He was plain speaking, frank and honest and did not attempt to assert his superior station in life to disregarding the feelings of Uncle Carl Poe. Here was a man whose love of his grandchild had drawn him across a continent. Here was a man who acted courageously to find a lost heir even at great risk to his health.

     That first night, the old man slept soundly with Hopper at his feet to warm them.

      Early the next morning, the Earl asked his granddaughter to show him the graves of his daughter Sue Ellen and William, her husband.  Only a boulder marked the spot.

     It broke the Earl of Chester’s heart that his daughter and her family had suffered at the hands of a tornado.  What memories his granddaughter Sami must have at living so near a tragic place and living with its memories.

     While there, the Night Bunny came near and rubbed against both. Since they had each other to grieve with, the Night Bunny hopped away.

     “My daughter is safe,” the Earl told his granddaughter Sami. “Somehow she is dead but I am alive.  I should feel happy that I am alive but,” he said continuing on bitterly with a shaking of his head and such a heavy heart that his voice could not help but quiver, “I feel like I should be the one beneath the stone.  My only daughter has left me to struggle against death alone.  Now all I see is death and all I feel is loneliness.  I feel like death.”

     ‘“You are not dead, grandfather,” Sami told him. “You are also not alone.” Then Sami went to the ailing old man and hugged him and stayed in his arms while he sobbed and shook.

     The Red Williams’s observed the sight and came over and Sami introduced them to Sami’s grandfather. This helped him regain his composure.

     Later on that day and the two to follow, Sami took her grandfather on a romp through the woods. Sometimes they had to lean against the wind flying through the forest.

     The light always seems the bluest in November. Clouds race down from the Great Lakes then and begin to bear snow showers or icier winds. Leave are all on the ground and they have lost their green coloring.  Instead of crowning trees they race on the ground at the request of almost any breeze.  Above are birds scattered in flight and blown into unintended routes.

     Up ahead he saw a division of the path.   Uncle Carl Poe saw one fork for Sami.  It was a road filled with bright hopes for the future. The other path was for Uncle Carl Poe of loneliness and separation from all of the family he had known. 

     He thought to himself, “I must return this girl with me to England.”
     Another part of him said, “Take my grandchild back with me to England?”
     The first voice said, “I can give her so much more than what she has here. I will give her the finest education. I myself have come through Eton and Cambridge. She will have every advantage I can give her.  I am a Knight Companion to the Most Noble Order of the Garter.  She will have access to the finest companions and leaders of the whole world.”

     Nevertheless, Uncle Carl Poe could not bring himself to deprive his beloved niece of so much advantage in a life in the Hoosier woods even for a potential life in a widened world.

     Uncle Carl Poe saw the Earl return from his walk in the woods with his niece.

     The two were in each other’s thoughts and dreams.

     The question of the divided path could not be avoided.

     “Carl Poe,” the Duke said.  “I want to talk to you about Sami’s future.  I would like to talk to you about taking her back to England with me.”

     Uncle Carl Poe was not entirely surprised that this subject would arise.

     The two sat by the hearth on the puncheon bench there.

     The Earl had many points to make.  Sami would become a companion to the future Queen of England.  Sami could tell her about the wonders she encountered in the Hoosier forest.  The lessons she had learned were about loving God’s people and creatures and living peacefully and justly with Mother Nature.

     “Yes, she may go,” Uncle Carl Poe said sadly.  But you must be quick about it and leave before I change my mind.”

      Uncle Carl Poe was not unmindful of the challenges that Sami would face.  To the proud English royalty, Sami’s manners might be considered atrocious and her humble appearance demeaning.  But Uncle Carl Poe well knew the resiliency and fiercely determined will power that Sami had.  She could overcome any adversity.

        Before she left, Uncle Carl Poe handed her a poem he had written for her entitled “Christmastory.”

        It was not long after, the few clothes of the little girl were packed inside a sack.

 

The woods learned that Sami was leaving. Quickly a farewell was attended by Zeus the

stag, the red Williams’s, a contingent of woods’ mice, Lady the Snapping Turtle,

Hummer the Hummingbird and Woody the Woodpecker, the Half Dead Lady and her

spouse, the Little Old Man, the Fairy Queen, several wunks and many others.


     “Goodbye Uncle,” Sami said to Uncle Carl Poe, “your love wrapped around me,” she

said. Sami beamed realizing she would forever be enfolded into the love of her uncle and

the woods of her childhood.

     “Come along, Lady Chester,” the Earl said.

  

     Sami waved goodbye.

     The team drove her back to the general store where the stage coach of the Earl waited

to take the two off to Cincinnati and another continent.

 

CHRISTMASTORY (UNCLE CARL POE’S POEM)

 

     Once God was so tired God couldn’t sleep a wink.

     Finally, God thought to God’s self, I guess I will just read a little bit from the book of life.
     But it was late at night, so late they wasn’t a single light on.

     So God reached into the creation bag God always kept around for emergencies.

     Then God pulled out lots of stars to get one for a reading light.  There was big ones and little ones, glaring ones and soft ones.

     God couldn’t decide which one would make the best reading light so God scattered them all over the sky.  Then God tried reading under this one and that one.

     Only one problem.

     Since they was so many of them scattered across the sky, they made God feel even worse, kind of lonely really.

     So God thought to God’s self.
     I guess I will create some to share these reading lights.

     And while God was at it, God thought to create some to share the reading of the book of life.
      So God created the earth for these “somes” to live on.

     Then God created plants, but they wouldn’t listen to the story
God was reading in the starlight.  In fact they wilted until God had to create the sun for them to grow better in.

     The sunlight turned out to be better for the earth too.

     But God still didn’t have any one to like the story God wanted to tell out of the book of life.

     Try as they did, the plants just couldn’t pay attention to the story God was telling them.  All they could do was grow and bloom flowers and smell as good as they could for God.

     God was still very very lonely.

     God decided to create some with ears.

     God pulled animals out of the creation bag.

     They had ears and could listen except they count understand nothing.  They just wanted to run around on the earth and dance with joy at having God pay attention to them.

     Finally, God looked in a mirror.

     Maybe, I won't be so lonely if I create some that look like me, God thought.

     So God reached clear to the bottom of the creation bag and pulled out a heart and a brain and bones and eyes and teeth and fingers and toes and skin and blood and put them all together withother stuff and stuck them on the earth.

      The first one was Adam and then came Eve to even out how people were supposed to live in pairs.

     And then God started reading the book of life to them.

     And as God read, time went on and on.  The sun came up and went down.

      People was having children and spreading out on the earth and God was having trouble reading to so many.

     God decided to single out one to read to, Abraham.

     Abraham listened and asked questions for the first time.

     What do you want us people to do? Abraham asked.

     God took a break from story reading and thought about it.

     God liked having some to listen to the story God was telling, but God never thought what people would do with it other than listen.

     So Abraham and God talked person to creator and figured out maybe people should bond more.

     God put the book of life down and said; From now on this story of life won't come from any book.  It will come from how you and your children and I get along.

     So God and people become a living story with characters and interacting plots with God working in the story lines and the like.

     Then God really couldn’t sleep.

     God counted the sun coming up and down like sheep jumping over a fence and even the stars telling God its nighttime agin couldn’t stop God from staying up and worrying.

     After all these people looked like God’s baby pictures.

      These people were God’s self.

     The people was worrying themselves.  They knew they was going to die. 

     They knew the next minute could bring disaster.

     They didn’t know what they was doing was worthwhile

     God figured there was only one thing to do.

     Give people a Christmas present.

     Only one present would do.

     God would give people God’s self.

     So God got born among people just the way they did.

     Shepherds came from the hills to see God coming down to earth like a star falling when the little one was born.  Mary was chose to be the little one’s mother and she called the little one Jesus.

     God brought the book of life down when God come too, so as to be able to remember to tell people everything they needed to know to live righty.

     God liked being able to tell the stories in person without having to send the stories through the prophets that come before.

     God could just sit beside the or on boats or on mountains and call people and here they would come to there in big crowds or sometimes in little groups that learned to like being together so much that later they just kept wanting to be together enough for churches to start up all over the world.  That came after some of the rest of the story I’m telling.

     When God was born, like I said, God told people to love each other and especially to care for the ones they was closest to.  That way love could spread out like a wave.

     The thing was being taken to and people was learning to be called a new breed.

     It turned out some jelling was needed. 

     What was happening wasn’t enough.

     God needed to show this new bunch of story listeners that what they was going through wasn’t the end of the stories they had been listening to.

     God wanted people to see for themselves that death wasn’t final, that fate wasn’t in charge, that meaning comes in relationship to the stories God was telling.

     So God let people do their worst.  God let people loose to do their laughing, to do their whipping, to hang their only storyteller from a cross.

     Now you think what kind of a Christmas present did God give us?
     God died, right?  God died on a cross centuries ago? Right?
     Well did the stars die?  Did the sun die? What about the plants, aren’t they still agrowing?  And don’t animals still run around on the face of the earth?  And how about these people, don’t they still look like God?
     Yes, God still lives too.

     That’s the point of God’s story from the book of life.

     God has turned all of us into Abrahams to be specially bonded to.

     Our lives are God’s and to be lived for God and with God too.

     And God has even helped us to know the story by coming to earth to make sure we understood it.

     It is so we can live in God’s life as God’s children.

     So Hoosiers got a Christmas present that come long ago but still is being given.

     It breaks into our lives not just Christmas but every day streaking across our days like lightning and rolling through our minds like thunder.

     It’s the fact that God is with us still telling us this God of ours loves us since we are God’s.  We even look so good to God that God sees in us a family resemblance no matter what we see in a mirror.

     God whispers for us to love each other too, in every silent wind, or hurricane that enters our lives

     And God gives us the promise that one day another shooting star will come down to earth, to set things up for an even better story to come some future Christmas, where any tears we’ve not been able to control, even knowing what we do, will get wiped away.

SKY BEAR

 

     As the days of his youth slipped away, Hopper was now fully grown. He began to lose interest in the daily affairs associated with finding berries and patrolling the woods as his fellow bears disappeared one by one.

     Sami was gone now and the weather was growing autumnish again.  The year before of course he had simply become attracted to the underside of Sami's log cabin floor. Now Uncle Carl Poe was so alone with his thoughts and he shooed away Hopper more and more because he reminded him of his lost Sami.

     But this year he sought out a larger place to winter.

     He tried this place and that.  Nothing suited him.

     Then, one day Lo and Behold, he noticed a strange intruder in his woods.

     It was the Great Spirit of the Miami and the appearance was as a ghost of a living thing.

     Hopper noticed this spirit several times during that strange fall day.  The Great Spirit was on a quest. He was looking for his people. At last, the spirit went up to Hopper and asked him where were his people in these woods?

     Hopper had to tell him of their removal from their lands.

     At this the Great Spirit broke down and the woods shook in thunder and the clouds over the earth sparked out their disturbances.  Booms of agony were heard everywhere and the flashes of lightning broke forth.  There was searching behind every sycamore and along every creek for the children he had brought to this place.

     All of that day was a day of terrible storms.

     The storms raged so violently that many leaves were thrown off the trees of the Hoosier forest and every sort of animal sought shelter.

     Hopper thought of Sami and when it became apparent that the whole landscape might be destroyed he loped over to Sami’s house.

     Sami was of course gone, but Hopper remembered how warm were her hugs during bad times and stayed close to the log cabin.

     The Great Spirit had followed Hopper to the log cabin and announced his presence with a great bolt of lightning into the confines of the cabin.

     Uncle Carl Poe was outside.

     "Come to me!" came a commanding voice.

     Uncle Carl Poe did not want to heed the command but could not avoid it on fear of having his home burned down by an enraged force of nature.

     "Who are you?" the Great Spirit demanded of the man. 

     "I am Carl Poe," the man said.

     "Have you destroyed my people?"

     Hopper tried to intervene when he saw the confrontation was not going very well for a sputtering and terrified Uncle Carl Poe.

     Hopper interjected, "He means the Indians that used to live around here.  I think you had better answer him."

     "No," Uncle Carl Poe said.  "I have tried to give them shelter when I could."

     And then Hopper told the spirit about the Indian children and the Red Williams family and the medicine lady.

     "But my people!" the Great Spirit said in horrible anguish.  "Their villages are destroyed and I have found their mighty and brave warriors slain and buried.  Their women and children are gone!"

     Hopper walked into the center of the storm and reached for the closest place of the voice. He wanted to embrace the Great Spirit to tell him that many shared the pain. He could find nothing at all to embrace.  But the Great Spirit had noticed him. “And as for you,” the Great Spirit said, addressing Hopper, "Why are you still here?"

     "What do you mean?" Hopper asked.

     With a wave of the hand, the Great Spirit instantly scattered all of the clouds overhead and a section of the sky over the Hoosier forest suddenly appeared.

     There were stars at every point except for an empty hole.

     Did you never know that you are a sky bear?  Your home is in the sky and he pointed far away into sky toward a constellation that ordinary folk call Ursa Major. 

     And now it is time for you to return to your home, Hopper," the Great Spirit said.

     With that, he lifted the great grown bear up in his airy arms and laughed as Hopper groped around and pawed at a cloud before taking flight into the sky.

     "Hopper!" Uncle Carl Poe cried.

     "Sami!" the great bear cried. It was not a response the Great Spirit understood. “What is it?” he wanted to know. Who was this Sami?
     For the next few minutes the Great Spirit and Hopper talked about the days in the woods when a little girl named Sami and he romped and probed the mysteries of the forest and life.  The Great Spirit was enraptured and hung on every detail of the many accounts.  When he was done pouring out his memories and could not bear to think of any other detail without falling into despair, Hopper simply shook his head. “Please return me to the forest until my earthly life is done,” Hopper begged.

     The Great Spirit thought a moment and then relented. He gave Hopper a final embrace and then he returned the starry constellation back to the Hoosier forest as the great forces of the universe looked on and as starry angels looked down upon the earth to carry forth their creation orders.

     As he departed the Great Spirit told Hopper, “I shall not forget you.  We share the memories of life. Your friends shall be mine and because of you I will turn this forest into a garden to feed the world and to cause all the generations to wonder at how blessings flow when love abounds."

     “I shall keep your spot in the sky for you when it is your time to come to me,” the Great Spirit said as he disappeared in the sky.

 

 MEETING


    The cough would not go away.  Uncle Carl Poe lay in bed in the same little log cabin where he had brought Sami and Hopper to live so many years before.  It was late in the icy winter of 1838. Now Uncle Carl Poe was only forty years old. Why was he not so hardy?
     The years since Sami had left to return to England with her grandfather were busy ones.  Uncle Carl Poe cleared land and farmed.  His state of Indiana grew in population and now neighbors were everywhere.
     The coughing would not stop and Uncle Carl Poe felt himself growing weaker and weaker.  This winter temperatures dropped to zero. The winds carried the frigid temperatures into his cabin and they teased Uncle Carl Poe until his eyes closed for the last time.
     As he died the future came before him and he arose from his death bed.
     He walked outside.
     Hopper was out there waiting for him and the two began walking down to the crick as they had so many times.
     The crick however was flowing so quickly.  Uncle Carl Poe couldn’t understand how it could race so and he put his hand into its current by bending over at the bank.  He could not stop the sprint and dash of the waters.  His hands slipped through its atoms and QCD’s.
     The bank was changing as he stood on it.  It was falling into the little crick and Uncle Carl Poe had to stand back further and further to avoid falling in.
     As he turned around he noticed that his cabin was gone and that he himself was standing as if on an air that was blowing so quickly he could no longer cough. No longer did he feel so weak.
      The forest trees were gone now and standing on the wind he observed no sign of where his log cabin was.
     Puzzled, he began walking. He must have been headed south although directions meant nothing to him. There below him was the Ohio River still meandering toward the mighty Mississippi.  He walked upstream and seemed to be making giant strides. Light was streaming and chasing behind him.
     He had left Hopper behind and now wondered where the bear had gone who had lived with him for all the years.  He no longer could see him from where he was heading and the bear must have been long gone off to find another Uncle Carl Poe.
     Then up ahead he almost smashed into a mountain. Then another. Stone offered little resistance.
     He must slow things down and so he reached out to grab an Appalachian Peak.  The effort threw him forward and he landed on the banks of the Potomac River stationary for only a moment back in his more usual body form.
      But the scene he found himself in was far more unusual than any he had ever seen. With a tremendous effort he stilled his heart.
      He was on the stairs of a huge draped building at the head of the National Mall. Red, white and blue bunting festooned the Congress building and on its steps a platform jutted out. Heralding trumpets announced the arrivals of dignitaries. Everywhere was pomp and ceremony. “Hail to the Chief” was played and bands of uniformed men and women played other festive and patriotic music.
     Then he saw an African American skinny man stand up from his seat and go onto the platform.
     Another robed man went to him and the skinny man placed his hand upon a book and began repeating an oath.
     When he was done Uncle Carl Poe could not restrain his curiosity.  He wanted to go over to the man. He wanted to be close and personal with him. He seemed so familiar. Uncle Carl Poe rushed over to him on an easily moving stream of unknown wind and the man saw him and stopped with a start.
      “Who are you, Uncle Carl; Poe asked.
     The man drew Uncle Carl Poe close to him and raised his eyebrow and put forth his hand.  “Barack Obama,” he said.  The two shook hands.
     “And who are you?” Obama asked.
     “Carl Poe,” was the reply. “Where is this?”  Uncle Carl Poe asked.
     “Washington DC,” the President replied.  “Why did you not know that?”
     “I just died out by the crick back yonder.”
     “And what year do you think it is?” the President asked.
     “1838, so far as I know.”
     The two looked at each other. The skinny man realized he was in a warped encounter. Uncle Carl Poe’s movement forward in time until its end had halted for a frozen moment with this man.
     “Why have you come here?” the President asked.
     “God must have wanted me to,” Uncle Carl Poe said.
     “But why would that be. This is the year 2013.  I have just been re-elected President of this land.”
     “Perhaps God wanted you to see where America had come from, who its pioneers were.”
     “Take my hand,” the President said.  “Tell me about your life.”
     “Once I decided to settle in Indiana,” Uncle Carl Poe told him.  “It was so I could be with my brother and his wife and little girl.  Then they died in a tornado and I went ahead and took in the little girl.  Her name was Sami.  How I wish you could experience the magic of being with her! And I hunted and cleared and then just went on doing these things until I died.  Oh, I forgot to tell you the best thing about Sami.  She was the joy of my life and I was so full of love and adventure living with her that my heart is still jam packed.  And she had this little bear named Hopper.  Oh my life was so full.”
     The skinny dark man smiled. “And now you see before you what has come from your story and the story of all the Americans that have come to this continent from everywhere.   Look around Uncle Carl Poe.  See?”
     Uncle Carl Poe hadn’t noticed the great crowds until now.   He was too busy talking to this wonderful and sympathetic man.  But when he turned he saw them.
      There on the mall in Washington were hundreds of thousands of people.   A twenty one gun salute jarred the peace. Age seemed to make no difference.  All were huddled together, native men and women, immigrants old and young, silently hetero or gay, some wearing crosses, others not. They had every color of skin. Some of their ancestors were from England and some from Africa.  Some were from Europe and some from China.  Others were Hispanics and all of them were mixed in capacities and sexuality and gender and mental and physical attributes.  The colors of skin were like a beautiful rainbow. Husbands and wives were with their families or alone with each other holding hands as were some of them men closely matched with each other or women eagerly conversing together. Some were obviously disabled in wheelchairs or caned or on crutches and some old or young or having the detached look of mental illness.  They were wearing yarmulkas or bareheaded, hijabs with Fatima pins or veils, dhoti gowns and robes, suits or jeans. Al of them were waving American flags.
      Uncle Carl Poe was so taken aback he did not know what to do.
     The President was shaking his head.
     “I must go on with this day,” he said.
     “What was the meaning of this?” Uncle Carl Poe wondered.
     And then as he looked out at the sea of people he noticed that he was not out there.
     Then he realized the wind that had brought him to this scene was an airy hand and the hand took him over to the crowd and set him within and gave him a flag too. He waved it wildly.
     He listened as America renewed itself under the hand of its current leader.  This man he had just met was addressing the huge crowd from America’s Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.”   
      Yes! He realized he had been a part of this.  “I was an American wasn’t I?” he said to himself. Then as he stared at the striking scene on the podium and observed the appearance of the man addressing the crowd, the President started looking strangely familiar.  Like a flash it came to him. This man addressing the crowd is me.
     It was a quick moment and it was over. Other quick moments came and went.
     Now the air resumed zipping forward as he rejoined the race of time toward its fulfillment.

A DUCHESS RETURNS

 

     It was the last day of June 1838.

     England  had just celebrated the coronation of the youthful queen Victoria at London’s Westminster Abbey. The young girl Victoria had become queen at 18 in the year earlier when her uncle, the king, William IV had died but her coronation was delayed until the next summer.

     In the coronation procession in London, Her Grace, Sami, the Duchess of York and her husband Frederick rode with the queen in her state coach.  The crowds recognized her as well as the queen immediately with  mighty cheers of respect and admiration.  The people knew Sami as the queen’s closest confidant and friend. Now the royal companions had returned to their home at Oatlands near Weybridge, Surrey.  It was there that Lady York opened the letter that would mean she must be off to the new land of America to take care of family business. 

     “What family?” Frederick, her husband, enquired.  He quickly arose from his desk at the estate manor because the news was so unexpected.

     “My Uncle Carl Poe has died,” Sami told him. She went to the Duke and the two embraced. Sami needed her husband to hold onto.  He comforted her as best he could.

It was very easy to want to be a part of the life of the Duchess.  At 24, she was one of the most beautiful women in the circle of the Court. Her blond hair was braided on both sides of the temple hanging in loops around the ear.  Then the braids were attached to a bun in the back. She wore a dress very restricted in the waist with a tight corset beneath. Sami was considered the epitome of style.

      “Do you have to go?  Must you travel? Can’t you take care of this by a notary or power of attorney?”  The Duke needed Sami with him. She was his energy.

     “No,” Sami said. “I owe my Uncle Carl Poe so many things.  I should have been with him during these times when I know he must have been without my comfort. I must go to Indiana to clear up his affairs.”
     “Do you want me to go with you?” Frederick asked.

     “No, I prefer to go alone,” Sami said.  “I will take Belinda with me for company.”

     Frederick knew that Sami had made up her mind about this trip by herself and once she had her mind set nothing could change it.

     Sami showed her husband the letter. It was from a Court Clerk in Hancock County, Indiana. It informed Sami, now a Duchess, that her Uncle Carl Poe had passed leaving a recorded will naming her and allotting all of his earthly possessions to her.

     The Duchess, at 24, had come into a vast inheritance of American property. She was the heir of a sturdy and industrious pioneer of the forest lands in Indiana.  Although much of his land remained in forest, some was productive and all of it was potentially among the most valuable acreage for crop production in the United States.

     Sami’s heart warmed at the thought of returning to her girlhood home in the Hoosier woods. Her heart belonged to this place of dreams and true home. The journey would be one of the heart. All of the years since she had left for England had been burdened with the memories of her days in the Miami Indian lands spent with her mother and father and her late Uncle Carl Poe. Those times had been taken from her in all except her thoughts and longings and frequent reminiscences.

     Sami hurriedly packed. In her trunk she placed several of her riding habits and the loosest dresses and other clothing but few corsets or thick crinolines. Most of her dresses were fashionable but totally unsuited for wear in the American West. They restricted movement to the point where even lifting her arms was almost impossible.
     Her trip must not be hampered by anything. The business of settling Uncle Carl Poe’s estate required Sami’s return. She must consult with a barrister at the courthouse of what was now the county seat, Greenfield, of this former lands of forest and Indians and hardy, stalwart settlers.

     The business must be taken care of. Everyone knew that Lady York was an astute businesswoman and quite capable of handling her own affairs. Even her husband deferred to her decisions and all of England knew how strong willed she was. Her connections were strong and impeccable. She was well known as a close friend of the Princess Victoria of Kent who had become Queen Victoria the year before.

     July was commencing.  Lady York booked a cabin in a ship to America from Bristol for herself and one maid. She was met at the New York pier by Her Majesty’s Consul there who had received instructions from the Court at Windsor Castle to provide her with every assistance.  Arrangements were made for her destination to Indianapolis primarily by coach. Summer travel in America was much easier in July than in the springtime when the coaches easily became mired along the roads, even the macadamized ones thick with crushed stone.

     At Indianapolis, Sami arranged for a stage coach to Greenfield and there engaged horses at a livery stable off the Courthouse Square and rooms at the Gooding Tavern. But before she would see a lawyer, she wished to see her girlhood home.

    It was a grand day in July, beautiful out and not so hot as Sami remembered July weather being along the crick runs of Central Indiana. The temperature was 70 degrees on this day of the month. The hours were filled with brilliant sunshine illuminating the                                                                                                      forest.

     Lady York yearned to see the places of her heart from the youth that still vividly played in her memory. The magical woodland called to her. Sami put her hair up under her hat for the trip out to the log cabin home of her early youth. The horses were outside her rooms at the local inn and nickered as Sami and her maid mounted them for the trip out into the country.

     Then the two were on their long awaited way to Uncle Carl Poe’s log cabin.

     Lady York rode quietly by paths well known out into the Hoosier countryside. Her companion and maid Belinda allowed Lady York to have silent moments and nothing disturbed those quiet times except for the blowing of the horses curious about the countryside as they went down the little used trace back to the former home of Uncle Carl Poe.

     The route led past the Red  Williams’s new farmhouse and the site of the log cabin where Lady’s York’s parents were buried. Sami stopped and easily located the resting places of her parents William and Sue Ellen where Uncle Carl Poe had dug graves after the deadly tornado had destroyed their home.

     Sami and Belinda saw beautiful Hoosier July wildflowers growing nearby along the woods edges and Sami picked two beautiful bouquets of blue chicory, black buttoned coneflowers, purple ironweed and bright yellow ashy sunflowers to place upon her parents’ graves. With a shake of her head to cast away frustration and a set of her lips to halt the tears, Sami placed the bouquets on the graves.

     Then they remounted their horses for the trip to the log cabin where she was raised by Uncle Carl Poe. 

     Near a bend in the crick path, a small animal slunked across the road. It was black with a white stripe across the back of its head and down the sides and to the tip of its tail.

     Belinda was charmed and amazed and halted her horse.  “Maam,” she said to Lady York, “Do you see this amazing kitty.  It is like nothing I have ever seen before in England.”

     Sami of course had seen polecats often in her youth although none are in England.

    Belinda was preparing to slide off of her horse to go chase down the kitty to pet it.

    “Stay on your horse, Belinda,” Lady York told her. “This is a skunk and it sprays a noxious odor that you will take days to get off.”

     “Oh,” Belinda said and bucked at the halters to cause her horse to move quickly on.

     It was getting dark when Lady York and her maid arrived at the little changed home site of Uncle Carl Poe.

     “I must go inside,” Lady York said.
     At about the same time the horse of her maid raised his head high and snorted through

his nose, a sound of danger. A fearful Belinda drew out her pistol she carried for

protection and looked about.

     There, emerging from the trees was a black bear.

     Belinda called out to Lady York. “Look out. A forest creature is here.”

     The bear moved toward Belinda and swatted the ground in front of her with its front

paw all the while blowing and snorting into the air. It backed off when the bear heard

sounds from inside the log cabin of Uncle Carl Poe and turned to look in that direction.

     Sami was emerging from the door and the latchstring loosened. Sami came out with

tears in her eyes. Then she saw the bear.

     The bear lumbered toward Sami. Sami stood still and talked to the bear in a calm

voice. “Who are you?” she asked the bear in a quiet voice. “Have I known you?”

     The bear drew closer. Sami did not back away but kept talking to the bear in a quiet

monotone voice.  “Who are you?” she asked again.

     The bear was within paw strike. Then the bear began huffing and his lips squared off

giving the bear a very long looking square face.  As he did so his jaws popped and his

eyes searched out those of Sami.

     “Are you guarding this place?” Sami asked the bear.

     The bear shook his head and raised his ears fully.

     As the ears arose into furry arches, Sami noticed that one of the ears was notched. It

was the same notching on the right ear that Sami had observed on a cub in a moraine cave

as a child well over a decade before , a discovery made in the presence of a magical

Indian friend.

     Belinda screamed out, “This bear is not going to leave. Quickly! Lady York!  Get

back into the house and lock the door! I have a clear shot.”

     But Sami did not run.

     “Wait,” Sami said.  “Do not shoot!” She looked at the bear with a melting look that was returned by the bear.  

     The bear’s ear settled the matter. This bear was Hopper.

     After all of the years their eyes once again met and the intervening days from each’s childhood dissolved.

     Sami and Hopper once again embraced in a hug of joy and reunion as in the old days and two souls of the forest rejoined in serenity and perfect peace. The trials of life were forgotten. The noise and clamor of life was still.

     Legend has it and it is often said in these Hoosier parts that a bear named Hopper was the last bear on Brandywine Crick and that he was raised to be a human being by one of the earliest settler children.

EPILOGUE

 

     Some wonder that there is a strange statue in the Cathedral at York, England, at the spot where the Duchess of York lies buried beneath a stone. She lies next to her husband Frederick under a noble coat of arms of the kingdom, bearing a label argent of three points, the center point bearing a cross gules. The tiny golden statue is of a little girl with hair flying to one side in a hot imaginary Hoosier wind freed and open to life ready to chase butterflies frolicking happily in the clouds with a tiny black bear at her side.