"Who's taking you to the
dance tonight?" Narcisse asked Lizzie in his off handed way.
"Who else but you, Narcisse
Pensoneau. Who would dare ask me after you tell everyone that I am your
girl." Lizzie pretended to be upset with him.
"You are my girl, Lizzie
Little Cook. YOU are my girl, and you know how seriously I feel about
"Before long, you will be
bringing up marriage again." Lizzie glanced sideways to see his reaction.
"And is there something
wrong with marriage? Narcisse smiled.
Now that she herself had
brought the old subject out into the open Lizzie would not say another
word. She felt too unsure about making a decision just yet. There was a
need to think more about whether she really wanted to go that far with
their relationship. Narcisse was so much fun. He was always happy it
seemed. He had a quick wit and a "devil may care attitude. This was not
always true of the men of her own tribe. The tribe had fewer numbers and
there were less choices, too.
One was not allowed to
marry into their own clan and that narrowed the possibilities down also.
She knew Narcisse could please her family. The girls choice was to be
centered on their mates good physical condition. His good looks, physical
strength and coordination as to mastering athletic skills was important.
They felt that if one was physically alert and strong then so would be
their mind. Narcisse qualified for this.
With the short jog across
the campus and his perspiring Narcisses's hair covered his head with dark
waves and curls. Not only was he handsome but he really loved life and
living. This was obvious in his happy outlook and countenance. Lizzie
loved him for that.
Narcisse walked Lizzie up
the long stairs to the dormitory where she lived and worked. That evening
he had been her escort to the evening social. They said their goodnight
under the watchful surveillance of the matron in charge.
When Lizzie spied her
friend waiting for her in the lobby she rushed to her. The girls were
anxious to visit with each other about the events of the evening. They
walked together down the long wide corridor toward Lizzie's room. Some of
the students they passed in the hallway dutifully spoke to "Miss Little
Cook" as their matron, even though she was in reality not much older than
they were. She certainly felt as much of a girl as they were.
She choose the correct key
from her large set of keys to the many different doors of the
dormitory. There were the linen closets, offices, supply rooms, library
study room, ironing room, laundry room, exit doors. All the doors were
kept locked at all times but at various times during the day they would
not be. For example the ironing room was locked during the study hour at
night for the obvious reason. Study hour was for study not ironing.
With the keys she now
opened the door to her own apartment. This was a luxury enjoyed by the
staff. The girls slipped quickly from the hallway to the quiet orderly
privacy of her own apartment. This was her own space and she knew when the
time came it would be hard for her to leave it. The apartment was well
furnished with what was expensive maple furniture. She enjoyed the highly
polished pieces with a drop down leaf for a desk probably the most. The
apartment setting inside the massive castle like building had a feeling of
security about it.
She knew she didn't own it
but somehow the place gave one the feeling that it belonged to each
Lizzie stepped quickly to
the wide, elegantly tall, window where she knew she could watch Narcisse
walk across the campus. She wondered if for all the rest of her life she
would feel this awareness of his presence. Somehow, even before he made
his appearance before her she knew he was there. As she was thinking she
turned back to the company of her friend.
"Do you know that Narcisse
wants me to marry him?" She had meant to surprise her friend.
Instead, quiet acceptance
met her announcement. "I really am not surprised." Her friend replied. "He
devotes all his time to you. I never see him even mildly interested in
"I know, and I am not
surprised either. I think there is something very special between us,
almost another world separate and apart from this one. Maybe it is like
the world that exists along side our own. The one our folks used to talk
about, which can only be seen on special occasions by certain people. The
worlds that would strangely disappear never to be seen again.
Lizzie's friend nervously
looked toward the door, now left open. It had a screen door along with the
outer door opening to the hallway Lizzie kept latched while leaving the
big door open. "You know we aren't supposed to be talking about those
things here, Lizzie. If someone were to hear you?
"Somehow, that doesn't
worry me so much, anymore. I really am beginning to think my time here is
going to be short anyway.
"You mean you are
considering marrying Narcisse?"
Lizzie quietly thought the
question through before she answered. "I think the time has come when I
need to be returning home. My father is gone now and there is much
responsibility he left for me. My parents wanted me educated in order that
I might be a go between for them and the white agents. That need is even
more demanding now than ever. My sisters all have families and they need
someone to be able to communicate for them. It is the language they need
the most. They are more comfortable with their own language and they speak
this at home with the children. The white man's language is not for them.
I want to be home where I can help them. How can I think just about myself
now, and not go on with what my father wanted me to do? Father once told
me I was like a bowstring, and now, I know what he meant. What good is a
weapon if part of it is missing? Father wanted his arrows aimed far into
the future. It would be necessary to take care of paper work for our
family to hold our land. Someone must be able to be right there with the
agents, to see they are doing the best thing for us. Already, they have
put many heirs into our land that do not belong there. People that have no
right to inherit our land have done so, breaking it up for the
descendants. We lost our great lands in the north now it looks like we
will have to struggle to hold even these small parcels of land they traded
This friend of Lizzie's
understood. Her own tribe faced the same inevitability. It did not seem
unnatural for the young girls to be discussing these weighty matters
before their own family was even started. Even though Lizzie did not wear
the visible mark on her forehead, that of a chief's daughter, the
invisible mark was there and it was surfacing itself now. This was the
chief's blood, one of sacrifice and loving concern for her own.
Lizzie stepped again to the
open window and looked out over the campus she had grown to love.
Everything here was peace and order. This was a Utopia, another world
separate from that other world where she had grown up as a child close to
the reservation. That place seemed to be a war zone, a cold war, but
nevertheless, a war. It was not a bloody war but there was an uneasy
peace. The continued existence of her tribe would depend on how skillfully
its leaders would direct the people from an angry resentment of having
given up their land in the north. The loss of life of their loved ones in
great numbers left their people sad. Trained as their way held them to
peace there still was a resentment toward the fact that many of the tribe
was intermingling with the white race through marriage.
Lizzie was a little
worried. "I don't know how I will be able to marry out of my own tribe.
This is going to be a completely different thing for me to face." The
young woman was again quietly thoughtful. Narcisse was of the Shawnee
tribe. The Shawnees were a gregarious people. They traded easily and mixed
in with the whites and the French traders. Narcisse's name, "Pensoneau,"
testified to the fact that he had a French grandfather, Pasquel Pensoneau,
who could trace his ancestry to the depths of French civilization.
"Narcisse is so unlike
anyone in my own tribe. Our men were farmers, and hunters. Our families
have not mixed with the other races and they are very close to their old
ways." Lizzie was voicing an admiration for Narcisse in that he was not in
awe of the white men and their ways. He seemed to easily fit into their
lifestyle. He boldly talked their talk. Laughingly, he enjoyed being able
to do so. Lizzie wouldn't be able to do this until she was older. There
too, was the way Narcisse easily dealt with people, even coming out to the
advantage in his trading. He often stood quietly not missing an
opportunity to work at getting the better of a bargain. Lizzie never
stopped being fascinated with this part of his personality. He brought her
a security in this way and she enjoyed their life together. Later years
proved she could deal with both massive decisions and small things, also.
"What are you going to wear
to the dance tonight?" She was mentally brought back to the interior of
her pleasant apartment by her friends voice.
Lizzie stepped over to the
mirror standing on her dresser. The reflection showed a dark girl with
the strong bone structure of her race. Her make-up consisted mostly of
only face powder to dull the glossiness of her skin with a resulted matte
finish to her complexion. Her skin was fresh and aglow with the health and
beauty of youth. She had puffed her hair into the Gibson girl style of the
day. The young woman was wearing a high collared lace top which was
buttoned at the back of her neck. The full sleeved blouse again buttoned
tightly at her wrist. Her skirt was floor length and was fitted close
around her waist.
"I don't know for sure, but
I think I had better get started looking for something to wear for
tonight." Lizzie told her friend.
Tonight the people of her
clan, the He-Sah-Dah, rainmakers, straight paths, were to be forgotten as
she whirled and swayed to the lovely waltzes in the company of her soon to