The agent's demeanor was
not softened by the charm of the child and he kept to business. "Meka-Thee-Ing-Gay,
from this day on you will have a new name. You will be called Elizebeth.
See here, I will write it in this book and you will be registered as
Elizebeth Little Cook. This is your Christian name and that is what you
are to be called from this day on."
"There is another matter I
must discuss with you." The man who had ice water in his veins turned his
attention away from the child and spoke to Sam. "There have been some new
laws passed as to education. I must tell you, Elizebeth will be expected
to attend the boarding school at White Eagle."
The announcement seemed to
echo back and forth through the room, bouncing about from here to there
before the full impact of it struck at Esther's heart. Her inherited
trained control would not let her change her expression. There was only a
sharp catch of an instant change in her eyes as they momentarily pierced
the countenance of the man in front of her. This let her husband know how
deeply affected she was. The agent in his ignorance never knew how his
quickly rattled statement struck the woman. Her quiet serenity served her,
and the Anglo man could never know the workings of her mind. This
peacefulness she willed upon her psychic in order to bring her strength
for the battle she was seeing before her.
Nevertheless, the matter
had been stated and there was no need to rebel or try to change it. The
word of the Indian Agent was law. There was nothing that could be said or
done to change it. Esther had no choice but to go through the motions of
preparing the child to leave their home. The grief she felt was so
complete, she could not allow herself to give in to it, for fear she would
be totally lost to its despair. When, finally, the child was to be taken
to the boarding school and left there, Esther held the same hard unchanged
expression of control. She handed her child over to the white women who
was in charge of the boarding school. The last tight hug she gave the
child still did not break her facial expression.
"Go with them Elizebeth. Be
a good girl. Do all they tell you, just as I have taught you how to do--Elizebeth.
By using the girl's new name, she informed the child of her expectations
she had for her.
Meka-Thee-Ing-Gay saw her
mother did not seem to be worried, so she wasn't either. Obediently, she
followed the women into the building. Her mother had taught her the many
ways she could be a willing learner. They had practiced together, those
things. It was all a game for this four-year-old child.
Esther did not complain as
she quietly rode home with her husband. That night when they arrived home,
she didn't go into the house. Instead, she went immediately toward the
woods lining their property. Late into the night Sam could hear his wife's
mourning cries. The calls she made to her Great Spirit were the grief
wails the women made at the time of a death. Years later the chilling
cries would be heard by the white man. Those cries grabbed at their Anglo
hearts to cause cold shudders until they made the statement, "Nothing has
ever been heard like it."
Sam did hear, but he did
not go to the woman. This was a time with her Great Spirit and he did not
intrude. It would be disrespectful for him to do so. When she returned to
the house, her hair was cut short. The mud she had covered her head with
as a symbol of her grief was caked and dried. As the days continued,
slowly, so did the woman's pain. She cried out every early dawn, and
again at night. There was no breaking her away from it. This went on day
after day until Sam in seeing her become gaunt and thin knew she would
will her own death if he didn't do something to stop it. Her hollow eyes
showed the agony of her suffering.
"Today, my wife. Today,
you must put aside your mourning. I have sent for our doctor. Mind you,
not the white doctor, but our own. It is time for you to turn to him for
help. Today--you must put this aside long enough to make him welcome and
let him pray with you. You need his help. Let him speak to the Great
Spirit with you.
Esther listened to her
husband and she was willing to receive the tribal doctor. This doctor
would have insight and he could tell her what she didn't know and couldn't
She began to clean her body
and her hair. The days of mud she washed and washed again in order to
remove it along with the days of mourning. The cleansing of her body
seemed to help her, too. However, she would not bend to braid the short
bits of her hair together again. She simply combed her hair and left it
loose to hang bluntly about her face. Her life was not to be braided
together easily and the looseness of her hair symbolized her condition of
As the medicine man,
arrived they could hear him coming down the road, singing as he walked
along. Already, Esther's heart began to lift. To know there was someone
else approaching who cared for her seemed to give her strength. He was
singing a prayer song even now as he was arriving. Already, she began to
feel the strength of this man's spirit. The fogginess of her despondence
began to clear just a little. As she stepped out onto the porch, the man
"I have come to speak with
the Great Spirit for you, my daughter."
"I am grateful." Esther's
response was simple.
The man stayed with them a
number of days. Just before he left, this was what he told Esther; "I know
this is not something you can understand. You must believe that I know of
the ending of this matter. One of these days you will have your daughter
back. When you do, you will know this was all for a reason. There will be
a greatness coming from this but it will not happen for many years. Maybe,
not even in your life time. Today, I will ask you, yes, plead with you. Do
away with this mourning. Brace up. Strengthen yourself. Your daughter is
not dead. You must go on living in order to be here when she comes home.
This was exactly what
Esther did. She, from that day on, was never happy. But, she was able to
bring herself back to the living. There was no more mourning at night
alone in the woods. Her habitual prayer at dawn was not filled with her
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.