A Story of the Cherokee Removal as it might have been seen through the eyes of a seven year old boy
Chapter 3 of 19
Young Bear lay on the cold ground. He had not slept well last night. The ground was hard and damp besides being cold. Even the blanket he and Old Beaver Tail used to cover themselves with was damp. Last night they had raked together pile of leaves and used the blanket as cover. He and his grandfather had snuggled close together in an attempt to keep warm. Now the birds were awakening and it would soon be daylight but Young Bear could not open his eyes. He lay there on his damp bed, somewhere in that fantasy world between being fully asleep and being awake. Taking refuge in this make believe world he went back to a time when he was in his own bed back at their home in the mountains. He imagined he could hear his mother at the fireplace cooking breakfast. Soon his father would call him to come and eat. He could even smell the corn cakes cooking on the hot hearth and the squirrel and corn stew bubbling in the iron cook pot. Then his grandfather, Old Beaver Tail, stirred and slipped out from under the cover. Instantly Young Bear was awake and realized that it was only a dream and he would never again see his mother and father. Tears flooded his eyes and spilled out and ran down his face. He turned his face down into the blanket to hide the tears from his grandfather. When he had gained control he sat up in the damp blanket. He began to look through the leaves they had slept on through the night. As he found dry leaves he set then aside to help to help build a fire as Old Beaver Tail had taught him. He then stuck three sticks into the ground. From these sticks he and his grandfather would hang the damp blanket to shelter them from the early morning wind while they prepared the meager breakfast of corn meal and the wormy flour. The fat pork had long since
disappeared. The heat from the small fire would help dry the blanket. Then, if there was no rain or snow today, they could sleep in a dry blanket tonight. They might even find a log, a small depression in the ground or a small bluff to shelter them from the wind. Since he had slept very little last night Young Bear was very tired. He knew it would be difficult to keep up today. He decided he must be strong, he must not let his grandfather know he was tired. He would have to help him every way he could today.
Everyone in the camp was now awake. The smoke from the fires colored the air and in some directions it was difficult to see. As Young Bear prepared to build a fire he heard a noise. When he looked up through the smoke his hair stood on end. He could feel goose bumps cover his body. Through the thick smoke he could see his mother. She smiled at him. then she spoke. "My son, you must be strong. I will be with you. You must live to tell the story." Then as if she had never been there she disappeared. Young Bear jumped to his feet. He ran to where she had been but there was nothing there. He looked in all directions but he saw no one. He went back to where he had been building the fire. As he sat down Old Beaver Tail walked up with their daily rations. Young Bear was deep in thought. It seemed he was in a daze. His grandfather smiled at him and said good morning to him. The boy did not hear him. It was still as if he were in a trance. He looked at his grandfather and started to speak, to tell him of what he had seen. Then suddenly it came to his mind that he must tell no one. It would be his secret. Not until after they had eaten their meager breakfast did he speak. As they prepared to continue their journey they wrapped the now dry thin blanket about their shoulders. Young Bear was no longer sleepy and tired. As they started to walk Old Beaver Tail stumbled. Young Bear reached out to help him and spoke for the first time. He said, "Lean on me grandfather, I am strong enough for both of us."
The Saga of Young Bear is a copyrighted creation of Dick One Eagle AKA Comanche.
This story may not be copied or used in any way without the express written permission of the author.