Chapter 9 – Her New Friend
That same morning, Black Bear and his men said their goodbyes. Zuberi put his belongings on his horse as Imani and Tapiwa watched. Then Tapiwa pulled Zuberi to the side.
He said, “I have to tell you why I stay. Imani and Ayira are here.”
“What do you mean?” asked Zuberi.
“I miss my people – the women in my village were so beautiful. I had to be stuck here with all of you when I could have been served hand-and-foot by beautiful women. Very black women, some with no hair and their lips – Oh – their lips, big and soft.”
“It sounds as if you do not have much to pick from,” said Zuberi.
“Indian women are not the same. Their hair is long and they are shaped differently.”
“I am very happy with the Indian women – to me all women are the same.”
“You do not care about keeping your people alive. I want to have pure children, not mixed children with these women. I want Ayira... I have tried to offer her gifts and I have hunted for her – but she will not look at me.”
“It is not you – Ayira is different.”
“Can you believe Imani turned me away?”
Zuberi laughed and said, “You wanted her too?”
“I was desperate – but I will try harder with Ayira.” “Good luck – you will need it.”
Tapiwa nodded and said, “Thank you.”
The two men patted each other‘s shoulders, and then Zuberi walked over to Imani and asked, “May I speak with you? Many things happened so fast. I keep thinking about last night.”
“I think you were both angry, and you both took it out on each other.”
“There is more - I think I fought my brother.”
“What do you mean? Why do you say that?” Imani asked.
“She said something only my brother and I would know. I wanted to ask you, what do you know about Ayira?”
“You do not seem surprised.”
“Ayira has been through a lot – you must have imagined it.”
“No – I know what I saw, and what I saw in her eyes were the eyes of my brother,” said Zuberi.
“What is done is done – forget about the past. You are going to start over.”
“No... Do you know anything about her? You are the closest to her.” “I know the same as you. Forget about the past.”
“We can never forget the past, no matter how hard we try,” said Zuberi.
“Good luck to you and safe journey.”
“You can still leave with me.”
“There are reasons why I stay. This is your journey,” replied Imani.
“Much luck to you – you will need it.”
Zuberi mounted his horse as Dogsun walked up to Imani. “I will stay if you will have me,” said Dogsun.
Imani smiled and nodded yes. As the men left, Yellow Feather and Zuberi stared at each other. Then Zuberi turned away and they rode off.
Two days later at dusk, Imani entered Ayira’s teepee and found her with a long stick in her hand, playing with the fire. Though surprised, Ayira continued to play with the fire.
Imani sat across from Ayira and said, “You look well.”
“What brings you?”
“A friend visited me.”
Disgusted, Ayira continued to play with the fire.
“He wanted me to speak to you. Do you want to know who?”
“He just wants to be...” “I want no friends.”
Imani looked sadly at Ayira until Ayira became nervous and said, “You – you are my friend.”
“Just give him a chance.”
Ayira appeared disgusted again, but Imani continued, “Just speak to him for me. I will bring him in – please.”
She quickly got up and walked toward the entrance to the teepee, but Ayira looked away in anger. Imani waved someone into the teepee and Little Sparrow walked in. Ayira looked relieved. Little Sparrow sat across from Ayira, and she turned to stare into the fire.
“He came to me and asked me to speak with you. He says he tried to be your friend,” said Imani.
“Ask him if they sent him to watch me.”
Imani asked Little Sparrow and he shook his head no.
“No one sent him to watch you. He says he wants to be your friend.” “Tell him to stay away.”
“He is trying to be your friend. He came to me worried about you.”
“I need no one. Tell him to stay away.”
Little Sparrow whispered to Imani, “What is wrong?”
“She has not been well – she does not like to be around people.” Ayira peeked at them and listened.
“Tell her I want to hunt with her.”
“What about Tapiwa – he can,” said Imani. “I don’t like him,” said Little Sparrow.
“I am sorry, but she does not want anyone to bother her.” Little Sparrow looked disappointed, which concerned Ayira.
“What did you say?” asked Ayira.
“I told him you are heartless and you do not deserve his friendship,” she said as he quickly stood up.
“Look at what you did,” said Ayira.
“You hurt him.”
Imani stopped Little Sparrow and said, “I am sorry for the way she is.” Ayira looked down.
Little Sparrow smiled and said, “I understand.”
When he left, Imani glared at Ayira until she felt embarrassed.
“You’re miserable – he just wanted to be your friend. You did not deserve his friendship.”
Imani stomped out, and Ayira stared at a spear that lay on the ground near her bed. She jumped to her feet and picked up the spear. She left her teepee but then hesitated. Taking a deep breath, she walked over to Little Sparrow. Imani stared at Ayira in confusion. Ayira glanced at her, and then looked away in embarrassment.
Little Sparrow walked in the direction of his teepee, but when he arrived, he noticed Ayira walking toward him and he stopped. Ayira walked up to him and held out the spear. Red Sun watched as Little Sparrow stared at the spear and then slowly grabbed for it. Yellow Feather was walking with White Hawk in the distance and they stopped to watch.
Ayira pointed to a white feather and white beads at the end of the spear and said, “I made this for you, to bring you good hunting.”
The boy did not understand her. Red Sun angrily walked up and stepped in between them. “Stay away from my son.”
Ayira pointed to the spear and said, “Gift.”
Red Sun grabbed the spear from Little Sparrow and extended it toward Ayira. Ayira slowly took it back. Imani started to move toward them, but Yellow Feather got there first. Imani stopped.
“Stay away from my son,” said Red Sun to Ayira.
Yellow Feather put his hand on Red Sun’s shoulder and asked, “What is wrong?”
“I don’t want her to talk to my son. She is crazy.”
He looked at the boy and asked, “What happened?”
“She was giving me a new spear. I think she wants to go hunting with me. She even made this for me,” said Little Sparrow pointing at the white feathers and beads on the spear.
“Why can’t he hunt with you? What can she teach him?” asked Red Sun.
“She is different, but she is not crazy. I trust her.”
“She is crazy – she always stays in her teepee, and some of the others hear noises coming from it at night.”
Yellow Feather watched Ayira, but she appeared confused. He stared into her eyes and she quickly turned away.
“She will not hurt me. I have been following her since she woke up. All she does is hunt and stare at the land. Uncle, she will not hurt me.”
Ayira was feeling nervous as more people surrounded them. Yellow Feather stared at Ayira, and then softly touched her arm. Red Sun was stunned. Ayira looked down at his hand with a worried expression on her face.
She looked up, straight into his eyes as he said, “Don’t be afraid.”
Red Sun angrily pulled his hand off of Ayira’s arm and said, “Did you hear me?”
“Yes – if Little Sparrow trusts her, then I trust her. I know she will not hurt him.”
“How do you know? I do not trust her.”
“That is what I said – but everyone knows better,” said White Hawk.
Yellow Feather glared at White Hawk angrily, as another Indian woman yelled, “The other slave woman – she is kind and helps us with chores. I am not afraid of her.”
“I am not talking about the other – I talk of her,” said Red Sun as she pointed at Ayira. She continued, “She stays away from us and no one knows what she does alone.”
“I told you – she just hunts every day,” said Little Sparrow.
Red Sun looked angrily at him, but he continued, “I have been following her – she would have hurt me by now.”
Imani smiled proudly.
“You are not going with her, anywhere.” “Enough – let him be,” said Yellow Feather.
He stared at Ayira and said, “I trust her – let them be.”
Red Sun started crying and asked, “Why do you go against me?”
“Why do you hate her?” asked Yellow Feather.
“I am protecting my son.”
Ayira fearfully looked around for Imani. When she saw her, Ayira yelled, “Come here please!” Imani walked over to Ayira.
“She has done nothing to you – to anyone,” said Yellow Feather.
Imani sarcastically asked Ayira, “What did you do?”
“I did nothing... I just came to give the boy a spear and his mother started to yell at me.”
“Why?” asked Imani.
“I do not know – you understand these people.”
Yellow Feather noticed her frustration and asked Imani, “What is wrong with her?”
“She is scared – there are too many people around,” said Imani.
“Tell her not to be afraid, and that I am sorry for Red Sun yelling at her.”
Red Sun said, “You take her side over mine... Why do you go against me? I am just protecting my son.”
“And I am letting him be.”
“How can he be around someone like that?”
“Just let them be.”
“If something happens to him – I will never forgive you,” said Red Sun angrily, and she walked away through the crowd.
Yellow Feather looked at Ayira. “What did he say?” asked Ayira.
“Nothing – he says he is happy you changed your mind.”
Though she appeared confused, Ayira nodded. Imani smiled, and Ayira walked away mumbling to herself, “Happy – everyone looked angry to me.”
The next day, Ayira went outside to gather her things to go hunting. Little Sparrow ran toward her with his spear, as she stood outside of her teepee. Red Sun watched in anger as he finally got to Ayira.
He smiled at Ayira and pointed at his hatchet and knife. He said, “I brought this too.”
Ayira sadly nodded as she subtly smirked at him. The men were about to go hunting as well when Yellow Feather noticed Red Sun staring at Ayira and Little Sparrow.
He smiled and yelled out to Red Sun, “You worry too much.” Red Sun looked at him angrily and went into her teepee.
“Are you sure that is wise?” White Hawk asked Yellow Feather.
“Why do you ask?”
“His mother is right – you cannot trust the slave woman. She is different from the other slaves,” said White Hawk.
“That is why – she is the only one we do not know, and Little Sparrow could be the one to find out,” said Yellow Feather.
“And what if it is bad?”
“Then we will know,” said Yellow Feather.
“You are willing to sacrifice Little Sparrow for a slave that cares nothing about herself, her friends, or us. We saved her life and she shows nothing for that.”
Yellow Feather didn’t answer.
White Hawk continued, “If something bad were to happen – do you think she would care?”
“I am willing to take that chance, there is more than we see. Great Eagle said she is the dark stranger that will...”
“Yes – be the light. Not much of Great Eagle’s visions have come true, but then a dark stranger could mean any of the slaves, or that the stranger has not come at all.”
“Believe what you want – I trust her and I can see it in her eyes.”
“Cousin – I hope you are right.”
White Hawk walked away, leaving Yellow Feather alone with his worried thoughts.