Elizebeth, though she was a child, worked hard. She was only a child but
she had received her instructions from her mother, earlier. In these new
surrounding she was carefully carrying them out. Quietly, she observed the
other children who were not faring as well. Some in their lonely
homesickness would cry themselves to sleep at night. Others openly
disobeyed, becoming scornfully belligerent; thus reaping punishment as an
insult to their sorrow. She, as her mother had taught her, was quick to
follow instructions. Her mother and father instilled in her the need to
learn the language of the white man. Not even would she speak her own
language in whispered secrecy among her peers. She did not wish to take
the chance of being switched. This was not a matter of fear so much as a
loss of dignity. The girl had the inborn need for being proud and she did
not want the matrons to bring her to a moment of showing weakness. The
other children stood motionless through their punishment, neither crying
out, or visibly showing their pain. Lizzie, though very young, didn't
want things to come that place with herself. She seemed to understand her
Mother's games in teaching her this. Don't let them make you cry. She
could hear her mother's voice in her mind.
Elizebeth saw some of her
classmates had been placed at the mercy of their captors in this manner.
Esther had taught the girl well. Although she was only four she met the
challenge of psychological warfare with her own intelligence. Seeking a
way to bargain with their conquerors. The mother realized the necessity of
learning their language. The game she set before her daughter was that of
mastering this strange new way of speaking. The soft singing sounds had to
be changed to a sharp way of cutting off words. "She-no-dah," Esther
laughed, "is now 'dog." Although she emphasized the shortness and curtness
she didn't do so too much. Just enough for the girl to be interested. By
cutting off the words too much some of the parents had given their
children, whether by plan, or coincidence, a rebellious ring to the words.
The name Elizebeth soon was
shortened to "Lizzie," by a kindly matron who had taken the small child
under her wing. The girl had to adjust to this short name with no meaning.
Now the child was
struggling with the task of buttoning the new shoes which replaced the
soft comfortable moccasins she had worn before coming here. Her tiny
fingers worked with determination to try to pull the button through the
tight loop which would hold the shoe together on the side of her foot.
"Lizzie. You will have to
use this button hook on those." The gentle lady offered the instrument
like a long wire with a small hook at the tip of it. The woman showed
Lizzie how to slip the wire through the small loop and over the button,
pulling it through. The child looked up to the new friend she felt she
had, and smiled.
"Look, Lizzie, aren't these
the prettiest ribbons? I picked the colors I knew you would like best."
The matron held out the strips of shiny fabric for the girl to touch.
The girl studied this new
part of her costume in her typical, cautious, native way. By touching them
she became enthralled with the slippery shininess of the strips of fabric.
The ribbons met the touch of her fingers with an uncanny new sensation.
There was nothing in her world as far as articles of dress having this
same feel. Her fingers felt the strange slippery texture of it. It had the
same lack of resistance she felt when she held an icicle in the winter.
But, it was without the coldness to burn her fingers.
Elizebeth scrunched up her
eyes and smiled the smile that covered her whole face and the matron could
see her joy with this new part of her costume.
"Let's get these in your
hair now. The young attendant realized she could work a little faster
with the child and this she did.
The woman carried the tiny
girl, Lizzie, into the cafeteria. She wanted to see to it the child had
a good table and a protected place. The quiet inexperienced personality of
the little girl would require she be placed where some of the seasoned
children would not be able to beg food from her, leaving her with less to
Lizzie sat in front of her
tray of food and she was so overwhelmed by the newness of her
surroundings. She really wasn't interested in the meal before her. Those
large dark brown eyes were ever observant and she was taking in the
costume of the girls who sat around her. Their's was a uniform identical
to hers. The stiff starched fabrics made into dresses with puffed sleeves
and pinafore was not unpleasant. Her stare was interrupted by the sound of
the superintendent's voice behind her.
"Well, little Lizzie, how
are you this morning?"
She looked up to see a
pleasant smiling face. "Come Lizzie. Let me help you with your food." The
man picked her up and held her in one arm. He moved her tray closer and,
while he sat with her, he encouraged her to eat the food before her.
"I will help you with your
food this morning." From that morning on, Lizzie sat beside the kind
gentleman. He saw to it she was interested in eating her food. Elizebeth
felt secure and adjusted easily to this new world.