Along The Mohawk
Copyright © 2015 by Eric Aune
Caleb Dewasha one of the attackers for the Black Wolves, leaned down, placing his stick on the ground. Across from him his Bayhawk opponent matched his position. The ball was placed down between them and the referee stepped back. Caleb looked at his opponent and met his glare with one of his own. It wasn't an angry glare on either of their faces, just determination to give it all they had to get the ball.
At the whistle, both of them surged forward as they tried to clamp the ball to pass it to one of their nearby teammates. The two teens were grunting as they pushed against each other, their feet digging into the grass. They were air around them was filled with the clacking of their sticks as they battled for the ball. Suddenly Caleb clamped it and sent it out of the faceoff with his scoop, to his friend Jay. The two opponents broke apart and started running down the field.
Jay ran, ducked and twirled with the ball in the throat, as he tried to advance the ball to the goal. He spied Caleb running across field. He passed the ball and Caleb, caught it and turned to move, but one of the defenders brought his long stick down on the shaft of Caleb's stick jarring the ball loose. Caleb had to try to make a quick turn to chase the defender who was trying to scoop up the ball. The Bayhawk player scooped it up and quickly passed it to a teammate, who caught it and headed for the Black Wolf goal.
One of the Black Wolf defenders ran into him and the ball was knocked loose. There was a scramble as several players on both teams chased after the ball. One of the Black Wolf defenders scooped it up and made a quick pass to a midfielder. The midfielder turned and found two Bayhawk players in front of him. He spotted Jay and passed it to him. Once again Jay ran toward the goal. He passed it to another of the attackers who was able to advance it a little further up the field before he had to pass it, because he was blocked from getting to the goal. He saw Caleb off to the side and passed it.
Caleb caught it and out of the corner of his eye, he saw a defender heading toward him. He did a quick stop and twist around to the left and the defender couldn't change direction fast enough and went past Caleb. Caleb smiled when he heard the growl of frustration from the Bayhawk player he had just faked out. He ran to the goal. He ducked a defenders stick and jumped over another players stick that just missed him. He stopped and twirled around the next defender and moved close to the goal to make his shot.
The goalie got his stick up and misjudged it. The ball caromed off the side of the basket and went to the outside of the goal. The ball was right in the direction Caleb was moving, he was able to scoop it up and duck under a long stick of a defender who tried to knock the ball free. As he came up the defender cut back and bumped against him, which actually helped to move him in the direction he was trying to go which was on the opposite side of where the goalie was holding his stick. The goalie realized his error and tried to turn around as Caleb took his shot at the goal. The ball went into the net just missing the goalie's stick.
Caleb put both arms up as the whistle was sounded for the goal. Jay came up behind him and jumped on his back cheering. The signal sounded ending the game. The Black Wolf fans cheered. It was another win for the JV Black Wolves. His teammates congratulated him as they walked to their bench. Coach Buck was smiling and clapped him on the back. "Good job Caleb." They went out to shake hands with the Bayhawks.
When they finished, he and Jay headed over to where their families were standing. Caleb's little brother Elijah came over and hugged him. "Way to go Caleb. You were awesome." His sister joined the youngest sibling in giving him a hug. He looked at his mother who was standing with Jay's parents smiling at him. "That's was really good son. Working with your Uncles has paid off." He nodded. "Yeah, I think so too. I can't wait to tell them."
"Well you'll get your chance this weekend." Caleb nodded. He knew they were going into the Adirondacks for the next few days to spend time with their extended family. Jay looked at him. "Oh yeah, I forgot you were going to visit your family." Caleb saw the fake pout on Jay's face and smiled. "Ah don't worry Jay. You know we'll just be gone for a few days." Jay smiled and nodded. "Yeah I know, but you know I'll miss you. I know you love visiting your family. Have a great time." Caleb reached out and took Jay's hand. "Yuck."
They looked at Caleb's twelve year old sister, Gabriella who had her face screwed up into a disgusted look. However, both of them could see the laughter in her eyes that told them she was just making fun of them. Caleb quickly grabbed her and tickled her until screamed and giggled. She scowled as she punched him once he let her go. "You're mean." Caleb laughed and she quickly smiled at him.
"C'mon Jay, we need to get home." Jay's dad looked at Caleb and smiled. "Again, good game Caleb. Nice goal there, bud." Caleb shook his hand. "Thanks Mister V." Jay gave Caleb a hug and quick kiss goodbye, before following his parents to their car. Jay waved as they drove off. "We better get going home as well Son." Caleb nodded as he handed his stick to his little brother and placed his helmet on Elijah's head. That earned him a big hero worshiping smile. They followed their mom to the car for the drive home.
Caleb looked out the window as they drove up into the Adirondacks on Saturday morning. They were going to Indian Lake where their father's parents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived. When he had been killed in the traffic accident a couple of years back, they had wanted Caleb's family to move up there to live near them. But Katherine wanted to stay in Utica because that's where their real estate business was located, so she declined. But they made the trip up to the mountains about once a month. She wanted them to stay connected to the family and their Oneida culture. She had been an only child and her parents had died soon after Caleb was born, so this was a way for her children to keep that connection with their culture. The drive took just a little bit over an hour before they pulled into the family property along the shore of Lake Abanakee.
As they exited the car, their grandmother came out of the house to give them all hugs and kisses. Their grandfather John was right behind them. When he stepped back after hugging Caleb, he looked at the teen for a few minutes. He nodded as if he was satisfied with what he saw. "You are growing up well Grandson. I see your father in you. It is good to see you." Caleb smiled. "Thank you Grandfather. It is good to see you as well."
There was a big get together that afternoon. All the family came, bringing lots of food. Elijah and Gabriella had a great time reconnecting with their cousins. After everyone had eaten, Caleb's Uncle David walked up behind Caleb and tapped in on the shoulder. "Nephew." When Caleb turned he saw that he had been tapped on the shoulder with a lacrosse stick. His Uncle was smiling at him, holding two of the traditionally made sticks that the family liked to use when they played. Behind David were some of his other uncles and cousins all of them were holding their lacrosse sticks. Caleb grinned and stood up as David tossed one of the sticks over to him.
They both jogged over to join the others. They quickly chose sides and were soon playing a bit rougher version of lacrosse than the leagues allowed. This was more like how it was played long ago before all the rules were thought up to make it a competition sport. The air was filled with shouts and grunts of the players. At times it looked like a battle that it originally was in a way. Even as players went down on a play, they all quickly got back up with a smile and rejoined the fun. Some of the younger kids were using their own smaller lacrosse sticks and throwing the ball back and forth as they watched the older guys playing. Nobody really kept score as they were doing it as a way to bond together as family.
Late in the afternoon, Grandmother Daina called for them to stop as it was time for supper. They walked over to the picnic tables with arms around each other. All the uncles and cousins relived the game and the good plays that had happened, along with the funny things that had happened. Caleb loved being up here with his family. He thought that maybe one day when he was grown up, he would live up here.
After supper, they were all sitting around when John stood up, looked over at his grandson and his son David. He waved for them to follow him. John walked down to the lakeshore away from the others before stopping and looking out at the lake. He was silent for a few moments before speaking. "Caleb, it has been a year now since your father left us to join the ancestors. It is time for you to join me in a sweat to cleanse away the sorrows of the time and start anew." John glanced at his grandson who was also looking across the lake. Next to him was his son David who had a hand on Caleb's shoulder. "We of the Wolf Clan have a strong sense of family. Tomorrow we will drink only water, no food. We will build the sweat lodge. It will be just you, your Uncle David and I. The time is right for this. You are the man of your house now and there are things you should know."
Caleb looked at his grandfather and gave him a sad smile. His eyes were shining with unshed tears as he thought of his missing father. "I am honored Grandfather. I will gladly do as you say." His Uncle David gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze. "And I am honored to stand in as your father to help you with this." Caleb looked at his uncle and nodded. When all was said that needed saying, they stood there looking at the lake in silence. They heard Grandmother Daina calling to them and they turned back to join the family.
When they sat back down near the fire, Caleb looked at his uncle and smiled gratefully. David was his father's youngest brother and Caleb had always felt close to him, especially after the car accident that had taken his father from them the year before. David had been there for him then as well. He had been the first of his family after his parents that he had told about his relationship with Jay when he was thirteen. Caleb had been nervous about it, but had been overjoyed when David had told him that it didn't matter to him. He was still his uncle. They sat around the fire that had been built as it got darker and a little colder. They caught up on what the family had been doing and what was going on in the community until it was late. Everyone headed to bed, except their grandfather and Uncle David. Caleb asked if he should stay, but his grandfather said no. He was to get a good night's rest. He hugged them both goodnight and went to his room.
The next morning, mindful of his grandfather's instructions, he only drank water. He met his grandfather and uncle early that morning. They had him follow them to a clearing that was in the woods, away from the house and back from the shore a bit. The lake could be seen through trees, but anyone on the lake could not easily see this clearing through the screen of trees. Caleb saw that there was a stack of thin tree limbs in the clearing next to a large round patch of bare earth with a campfire ring in the middle. To the side of the round patch of ground were another campfire ring, a pile of stones stacked next to it and a couple of wooden buckets. There was also a pile of what looked like sheets of bark from elm trees.
His grandfather led the way over to the pile of limbs and picked one up. He placed the thicker end into a hole at the edge of the round patch of dirt. He then bent down and tamped the dirt around the limb until it was held firmly by the earth. As he did, Caleb could hear his grandfather singing in a low voice. When he finished he looked at Caleb. "What are you waiting for Grandson?" Caleb had been standing there and watching. He jumped as he realized what he had been doing. "Sorry Grandfather." Caleb went over to the pile of limbs and after picking one out, he did the same thing and placed it into one of the pre dug holes on the perimeter. The three of them worked like this for the next two hours. As he worked Caleb could faintly hear his grandfather's singing in the background. It was very soothing as they worked.
Once the limbs were all in the ground John silently directed Caleb and David to help him bind the limbs together to make a roof for the lodge. They continued to work silently except for the occasional sound of John singing or chanting as they worked. Caleb instinctively seemed to know he should not speak during this time. Once all the limbs had been pulled down and bound together with rope to hold the shape of the low roofed structure. John had them take a break. They drank water out of one of the wooden buckets.
After they had rested John directed them to place the pieces of bark on the frame that they had made. They worked for the next couple of hours on the sweat lodge until it was covered by the bark. When they were done, John stepped back and chanted a prayer. He looked at the other two and nodded. "Come let us go back to the house. It is time to clean up and take some time to get ready for the sweat."
After taking a shower, John had Caleb go with him a little way from the house and sat down where they could look out on the lake. "Grandson, this is an important time for you. You may get answers to any questions that you have, if the spirits will speak to you. We will prepare for the ceremony by listening to nature around us. Listen to the sounds of nature all around you and be calm within nature. As you do this, I want you to think of yourself and our family. Think of what questions you would ask of the spirits. When it is time we will go to the clearing." Caleb nodded and closed his eyes.
At first he could only hear his brother and sister with their cousins yelling and laughing as they played nearby. Slowly he was able to ignore their voices and listen to nature around him. At first it was the sound of the breeze coming off the lake and stirring the leaves in the trees and the fallen leaves as they skittered across the ground that he heard. As he continued to relax, he started hearing the movement of small animals on the ground among the nearby trees and the birds talking to each other overhead. By this time he had blocked out the sound of the kids playing and could only hear the sounds of nature. He felt a sense of peace settle on him.
Time passed but he did not realize it, as he listened to the natural world that was around him. As he sat there, he tried to think of what to ask the spirits as his grandfather had suggested. Only one question kept coming into his mind and to him, it was a strange thought, but it was something he had always wondered. He had asked his father this very question, but his father had always said, ask your grandfather. When he asked his grandfather, the answer was always the same. He would know when it was time for him to know. He was shaken out of his thoughts by the touch of a hand on his shoulder and someone saying his name.
He opened his eyes and looked up at his grandfather standing there with a smile on his face. Behind him Uncle David was standing there with two blankets in his arms. "Did you find a question to ask the spirits Grandson?" Caleb nodded. "Yes, it is one I have asked you and my father." John smiled and nodded. "Ah, so you have your question." Caleb nodded. "Yes. It is…." John held up a hand. "No, don't ask me, ask the spirits. Maybe they will answer you. Come, it is time."
The three of them walked back to the clearing. Caleb saw that there was now a fire burning down to a deep bed of coals. In the coals were several smooth stones being heated up for the inside of the sweat lodge. John began removing his clothes. Caleb hesitated a moment before doing the same. When they had each stripped to their skins, David handed each of them one of the blankets. Caleb was thankful for its warmth as it had gotten pretty cool outside. John didn't seem to be affected by the cold at all. Once they were both covered up. David handed John his kostoweh, the headdress that he wore for ceremonies. It was made from ash wood and decorated with turkey feathers. David then took a shallow bowl made of wood and a feather fan. It was smoking from the smoldering sage inside of it. David smudged John by using the fan to push the smoke toward him. John lifted the smoke over his head four times before taking the bowl and feather fan from David and doing the same thing for Caleb. Caleb copied his grandfather's movements. When they were done, John handed the bowl and fan back to David, who set it to the side. Then he took off his blanket and handed it to David before entering the sweat lodge. Caleb did the same and followed his grandfather. After he entered, his uncle closed the opening making it dark inside except for the glow coming from the stones that had already been placed in the depression in the middle of the lodge. Covering the ground were blankets and hides. The lodge had an earthy smell to it. His grandfather was seated opposite the door. Next to him was a wooden bucket with a wooden bowl next to it. John motioned for Caleb to sit next to him.
Caleb took his seat and crossed his legs like his grandfather. John began to chant and sing as he dipped the bowl into the bucket and poured it over the heated stones. The only sound was the hissing of the water on the stones and the sounds of John's voice. John sprinkled something onto the stones that put a pungent scent into the air, as the steam rose up to fill the lodge. Caleb felt the sweat start to cover his body. John continued singing for a few minutes. He then looked at Caleb. "Grandson, it is now time to ask the spirits and see if they will answer you. You do not need to speak it. Just think about it and if they wish to answer you, they will hear your question."
"Yes Grandfather." John took up his song once again as he sprinkled more onto the stones and added enough water to make the steam and scent rise.
Caleb closed his eyes and let the song wash over him as he breathed in the scent and the steam. Inside his head, he quietly asked his question.
"Spirits. I am Onyotaa:ka as my Father and Grandfather and all of my ancestors are, but I must ask, why do I have light eyes as my Grandfather does. No one else in my family has them, so why do I."
The question was asked now. He wondered if the spirits heard and would answer him. He could hear his grandfather singing and he found himself singing along with him. His grandfather's voice older with age and wisdom, mixed with his voice, young with vitality and youth. He began to feel a bit light headed and when he saw a glowing light he looked at the entrance and saw someone enter the lodge. The glow slowly faded and he saw sitting across from him, was Gabriel, his father. He looked at Gabriel in astonishment and he could barely whisper. "Father?" The man who he missed so much smiled at him. "She'ku kya (Hello my child)" Caleb found himself smiling with happiness and he was sure he felt tears dripping down his cheeks when he answered. "She'ku lake (Hello Father)"
Gabriel smiled. "I am glad to see you son."
"Father are you really here?" Gabriel shrugged. "In a way I am. The spirits allowed me to come to you to tell you how proud I am of you. Are you well?" Caleb reddened a little from the praise and nodded. "Yes Father. Although I miss you very much." Gabriel nodded. "Yes, I understand, but you know I am with you and the family always. If you need to talk to me, speak and I will hear. But now it is time for you to get an answer to your question. So I must leave you and let the spirits answer."
Gabriel began to fade and Caleb shook his head, not wanting his father to go. When he was gone from sight, Caleb saw shapes begin to form on the inside wall of the sweat lodge and he was drawn into them as they slowly began to clear.
Caleb Stewart brought the axe down on another chunk of wood splitting it in two. His twelve year old brother William took the split pieces and stacked them neatly on the woodpile. Caleb picked up another piece and cut it in two pieces. The two of them worked like this until all the wood was cut and stacked. When they were done, Caleb took the axe inside the barn and picked up his father's old smoothbore musket where he had it leaning against the outside wall of the barn.
"BOYS!" He looked in the direction of his father's shout. He saw his father Andrew motioning for the two boys to come over and help him. Andrew was standing next to a stump. It was about time to get the spring planting in, so his father had been working on clearing more land for crops. The wood that Caleb had been cutting had been from the tree that had been part of the stump that his father was standing by now. Caleb and William trotted over to their dad. Andrew smiled at them as they neared him. He had a chain wrapped around the stump and it was attached to the harness of one of their two draft horses. He was holding a long iron bar that was jammed under the stump where he had dug it out. "Boys, take hold of this bar and when I get Ginny to pull on the stump, you lever the stump out of the hole. Once we get this out, we can plow up this field for crops."
Caleb placed his musket next to his father's newer rifle, where it was leaning against a rock at the side of the field. He and his father always had their guns with them, even though there had been no problem with any of the tribes of the area. The Oneida were friendly to the colonists in the area and the Stewart family was friends with the Oneida's that lived nearby. Caleb and one of the boys his age, Tow-ce-ny, who had a Christian name of Thomas, were close friends and many time went hunting together. There were other tribes like the Mohawks and the Seneca who were said to be siding with the British, but there had been no raids from them for some time. But you could never be too careful as Andrew always told Caleb. So they kept their guns nearby, just in case.
The two brothers quickly took their dad's place near the stump. Andrew walked over to Ginny and picked up the reins after making sure everything was hooked up to Ginny's harness properly. He looked over his shoulder and smiled at his two sons who had their hands on the iron bar ready to pull down on the bar when the draft horse pulled.
He turned to look at the draft horse and take the reins in his hands. "Hup Ginny!" He gave a little slap of the reins and Ginny began to move forward until the chain was taught. When the boys saw the chain go taught, they put their weight on the bar. Andrew kept slapping the reins on Ginny's back to keep her pulling. With all of them working together the stump started to rise. It slowly began to break free of the earth as one end rose, making a crackling sound and then it was free. Andrew guided Ginny over to the side of the field and out of the way before he stopped her.
Andrew put the reins down and unhooked the chain from the stump. The boys joined him and he smiled at them. "Good job boys. We'll cut this up this afternoon. Shouldn't take too long, then we can get working on plowing the field for crops." They heard a call behind them and turned around. They saw Judith standing at the corral waving to them. Andrew waved back to let her know that they had heard her.
He looked at his boys. "Sounds like your mother has some luncheon for us. We'll get back to work afterwards." He clapped them on the back. He and Caleb walked over to the rock to pick up their guns while William started trotting to their house. Just as Caleb and Andrew picked up their guns they hear William yell out. "MA?"
They turned around and saw Judith slowly fall forward. Both grabbed their guns and began to run to the house. William started running toward his ma when he appeared to stumble and fall. Caleb ran faster and dropped down beside his brother. He turned him over and saw the arrow sticking out of William's belly. William looked up at his older brother with pain filled eyes. "It hurts Caleb. It hurts." Caleb watched as Williams eyes closed. His dad caught up to them just as another arrow buried itself in the ground next to Caleb's knee. He looked up and caught sight of a Huron warrior standing in the yard in front of the house pulling another arrow out of his quiver. Caleb brought his musket up and fired. It was a quick shot and something guided his aim as the .69 caliber musket ball struck the Huron in the chest, throwing him onto his back.
Caleb reached for his powder horn and shooting bag to reload, but his dad grabbed his shoulder to pull him over to the barn. When they made it to the wall, Andrew nodded to Caleb to reload. While he reloaded a Huron came around the corner of the barn and Andrew brought his rifle up and shot him down. He quickly began to reload. "Caleb. We need to get into the house. That will give us our best chance, so when I say go, run for the door. I'll be right behind you." Caleb nodded and looked for a target.
Andrew finished reloading. Both of them were looking around to see if there were any more Hurons in sight. They hoped that there were only the two. "Okay Caleb. Ready?" Caleb nodded. "Go!" They both stood up and began to run to the house. They were half way across the yard when there was the boom of a rifle off to their left and then the sound of his father's rifle from behind him. He looked around and saw another Huron go down from his father's shot. The Huron's musket flew from his hands. Andrew waved to Caleb to keep going. Another shot rang out and Caleb heard a thump behind him. He whipped around and saw his father on the ground. "PA!" He ran back to his father and tried to lift him up. "Your musket boy, take my rifle." Caleb handed it over and his father got up on his knees and took a shot. Caleb looked where he was aiming and saw another Huron go down. Caleb grabbed Andrew and hauled him to his feet. Just as Andrew put his arm around Caleb's shoulders they heard the zip of an arrow followed by a thunk and Andrew reeled in Caleb's arms as an arrow struck him high in the chest. Andrew barely held onto the musket as the two of them stumbled to the cabin. They got to the porch and Caleb felt something strike him hard in the upper back and he went down. Andrew fell on top of him, pinning him to the ground. He looked at his father and their eyes met for a few moments before everything went black.
A short distance away, Towacanoet was leading a small hunting party that included his fifteen year old son Tow-ce-ny. A couple of the men were carrying a deer suspended from a limb that they had brought down. They heard the sounds of gunfire from some place nearby. Towacanoet knew that they were near his friend Andrew's farm and it didn't sound like the sound of gunfire from a hunt. It sounded like a fight. He looked at the party with him and waved for them to follow him. The two warriors that were carrying the deer stashed it and they ran after Towacanoet.
It wasn't far and they could hear more scattered sounds of gunfire as they drew nearer. In front of them they saw a small number of Huron's standing around some bodies near the house. They saw one of the Huron's raise his war club and an arrow zipped by Towacanoet's shoulder and buried itself into the Huron's chest. The Huron warrior looked up with shock on his face and slowly fell onto his back. The three remaining Hurons turned around in surprise. They raised their bows to fire and were met by several arrows which struck and killed them.
The Oneida hunting party spread out, to make sure all the Hurons were dead. They took the few muskets and shooting bags that the Hurons had been carrying as their own, while Towacanoet and Tow-ce-ny ran to the bodies of their friends.
When he saw the older man and boy fall, Lamatan slowly stood up from where he was kneeling after his friend Petun had fired the shot that felled the boy. He looked around and it looked like there were no others, so he waved for the other warriors to follow him as they made their way to the house. They could see the younger boy lying motionless in the nearby field. The woman was also not moving. He led the men to the two bodies near the porch of the house. They could see that the man had fallen on the older boy. It looked like both of them were dead.
Lamatan pushed the man off of the boy and he leaned down to check the two bodies. He saw the boy's back rise slightly as he took a breath. Lamatan raised his war club to smash in the head of the wounded boy when he heard the whisper of a sound and felt something punch him in the chest. He looked down and saw an arrow protruding from his chest. He looked up and saw some Oneida standing at the edge of the nearby forest. A boy about the age of the boy at his feet was holding a bow. As it registered to Lamatan that he'd been shot, his war club slipped from his hand and he fell back. The three other Huron's whipped around bringing their weapons up to fire and they were struck several times by arrows.
When they saw that all of the Hurons were down, one of the Oneida ran out to the field to check on the younger boy and one went to the body of the woman. At the house Towacanoet went to Andrew, while Tow-ce-ny went to his friend Caleb. Towacanoet turned Andrew over and the man groaned a little. Towacanoet saw that he was bleeding from a bullet wound in his stomach. There was a lot of blood and he knew that Andrew would not make it. He had seen such wounds before on some of the warriors when they fought against the Huron, Seneca and Mohawk who were allies of the British. Andrew opened his eyes and looked up at Towacanoet. "John?" Towacanoet was a Christian Indian and had taken the Christian name, John Johnson. That is what Andrew always called him.
"John?" Towacanoet took his hand and nodded. "Yes my brother Andrew. I am here." Andrew looked around. "Caleb?" Towacanoet looked at his son who had moved Caleb onto this side. Tow-ce-ny nodded. "He is alive Father." Towacanoet nodded and smiled at his friend. "Yes my brother. Caleb lives." Andrew closed his eyes and whispered a quick prayer of thanks before opening his eyes again. "Care for him John. I know I'm dying. Help him become a good man that I can be proud of." Towacanoet smiled and nodded. "It will be as you say. I will care for him. He will be a man for you to be proud of." Andrew nodded and swallowed a couple of times. "Good, thank you my friend. I can rest easy now." Towacanoet looked up and saw one of the warriors carrying William in his arms. When their eyes met the warrior shook his head sadly as he laid the boy down next to his mother. Towacanoet closed his eyes for a moment and shook his head. He felt Andrew grip his hand a little tighter and he looked at him. Andrew's eyes were bright with tears. "I know my friend. I will join them both soon. Make him your son. Teach him everything you can." Towacanoet nodded and Andrew gave him a little blood stained smile and his grip slackened as he eyes went vacant.
Towacanoet's lips were a thin line as he looked at the dead Hurons with anger. "Drag the Hurons to the woods and let the animals feast on them. We will bury my friend and his family and will take young Caleb with us and tend him. My brother Andrew has asked me to take him into my lodge and I will do that." The warriors nodded and got to work. He looked at Tow-ce-ny. "I will tend him father. I have always looked at him as a brother and now he will be my brother." Towacanoet smiled. "We will build a travois for him. We can use one of their horses to pull him on it to our village. Stay with him." Tow-ce-nay nodded.
The Oneida warriors got to work taking care of the bodies of the three members of Caleb's family. They dug graves for them and buried them next to each other and marked each grave with a crude cross made from pieces of wood and strips of leather to tie the cross pieces pounded into the ground at the head of each grave. They knew this is the way the white men buried their dead. Inside the grave before they covered them up, they followed the Oneida custom and put something into the grave with each of them.
For Andrew, they put the bow and arrows of one of the Huron in his grave with him. Normally they would put the warrior's own weapons, but they thought Andrew's rifle should go to Caleb when he was well. For Judith, they put some of her pots as she was the one who cooked and fed the family. For William, they found a toy of his inside the house and put it in his hands. In each of them, they sprinkled a little tobacco as well. This was because smoking was their idea of felicity in the body and out of it.
While the family was being taken care of, others built the travois they would be using to carry Caleb back to their village. They attached it to the harness on Ginny and brought it over next to where Tow-ce-ny was sitting. He had stayed by Caleb's side. Caleb hadn't moved at all and looked very pale. Tow-ce-ny was worried for his friend. After the travois was built and attached to Ginny, Towacanoet took a firm hold of the arrow shaft and pulled it out of Caleb's back. When he did, Caleb's eyes shot open and he screamed before passing out. Towacanoet then cut off Caleb's shirt and used a piece of it as a bandage on the wound. They lifted him onto the travois, laying him face down. They took a blanket from the house and covered him with it, securing it and him to the travois with some rope.
They put the powder and ball for the musket and rifle on the travois next to him that they had found in the house. The rest of the warriors made sure they had all the powder, ball and muskets from the dead Huron warriors as they left the farm behind them. They took the other animals from the farm with them as well, otherwise they would probably starve with no one to tend to them. They stopped to pick up the deer that they had killed earlier, to take with them. Towacanoet, planned to keep a watch on the farm for the boy until he was well. Then he would let Caleb choose what he wanted to do.
Tow-ce-ny walked beside the travois. Many times Caleb let out a little groan when it hit a bump, but he didn't wake up. With each groan, he would reach out to touch Caleb as he tried to give him comfort and let his unconscious friend know that someone is there to help him. He watched his friend many times as they journeyed home. He felt a strange feeling in his chest when he looked at the boy. It was not one that he was familiar with and he had no answer as to why he felt the way he did when he looked at Caleb. He knew that he always looked forward to the times that they spent together and he missed him when they were apart. He thought that maybe he should ask his father about this, but he wasn't sure if he should.
Their travel was slowed by the travois, but they still made pretty good time on the journey. When they neared the village, Towacanoet sent two of the warriors ahead to let the village know what had happened and ask their village shaman, Shy-yo-we-yooh that he would need his help for Caleb. When they arrived a short time later his wife, Konwagalet, his daughter T-he-wet, and the shaman Shy-yo-we-yooh and his apprentice, Kon-to-lon-ty were waiting for them. Caleb was carried inside their longhouse and Tow-ce-ny led them over to where he slept. There was plenty of room on the platform for both boys. Caleb was stripped of his clothes as they were dirty and bloody. He was covered with blankets and furs.
Shy-yo-we-yooh carried his bag over to Caleb's side and took out some gourds from within the bag and set them to the side. Next he took another bowl that held a bundle of cedar and lit it from the fire so that it was smoking. He removed the blood soaked bandage, sniffed it and then dropped it to the side. He looked carefully at the wound and probed it. He nodded to himself and took up the smoking cedar and a turkey feather fan. He began to sing and pushed the smoke all over Caleb's body to drive away the bad spirits. As he was singing his apprentice poured some ground up substances from the gourds into the wooden bowl and then took some plants out of the bag and laid them to the side. He added water from a gourd into the bowl and then using another rounded piece of wood and ground it and the herbs together in the bowl until it was a paste. Shy-yo-we-yooh put one of the large leaves in his mouth and chewed it up before placing it on the wound along with the paste that his apprentice had made in the bowl. When he was satisfied that the wound was covered, he ripped a large piece of Caleb's shirt that was not soaked in blood and folded it into a bandage that he placed over the wound. Once the wound and poultice was covered by the cloth, he and his apprentice lifted Caleb up so that the wound could more easily be bound with a strip of leather to hold the poultice in place.
During this process, Shy-yo-we-yooh continued singing his prayers in a low voice. Once he saw that Caleb was comfortable, he again took up the smoldering cedar and his fan and waved the smoke over Caleb's body. When he was satisfied, he looked up as the smoke from the smoldering cedar rose up into the air and continued singing for a little while longer. When he finished he handed the smoldering cedar and his fan to his apprentice and looked at those gathered around Caleb. "It is done. Now it is up to the young one. If he is strong and the ancestors will it, he will live. If they do not, he will not. He will need to be tended."
Tow-ce-nay spoke up. "I will do it. He is as my brother. I will care for him, until he is well." Shy-yo-we-yooh nodded. "He should wake in the morning. Then we will know. If his skin becomes hot, send for me and I will do what I can to help him. It is in the hands of Ha-wen-ni-yu now." The apprentice gathered his things and placed them in the bag before they walked away.
The others left the two of them alone. Towacanoet had to talk to the warriors about what had happened so that word could be sent out about the Huron warriors being in the area. Konwagalet and her daughter had chores to do. Tow-ce-ny sat on the edge of the his bed as he watched over his friend. Hi sister brought a bowl of water and a cloth so that Tow-ce-ny could clean away the dirt and blood from Caleb's body. He joined his family for the evening meal, but went back to Caleb's side as soon as he could. Towacanoet watched his son and saw the worry he had on his face as he watched over Caleb. He saw how gentle Tow-ce-ny was with Caleb. He made him wonder if his son was one of those who preferred the company of other men.
He had known a few such men in his life. Some tended to act more like women and others acted like any other man. Many of them worked with the shamans and that was the direction that many such men took in their lives. He also knew some that were fierce warriors. The only difference between them and other men was who they shared their furs with. Otherwise that acted like any other warrior. He had heard that some such men were looked down upon by many whites, but the Oneida did not do such a thing. They looked at the person and how they contributed to the clan. He walked away to think on this. Maybe he should talk Shy-yo-we-yooh. He would have some insight as he was one that had chosen to be a shaman when he realized who he was.
He went to the Shaman's home. He found Shy-yo-we-yooh talking to his apprentice. When he saw Towacanoet, he smiled at his friend and sent Kon-to-lon-ty off on an errand. He waved Towacanoet to a seat. "Come and sit my friend." Towacanoet smiled and sat beside his friend. The shaman looked at his friend. "What troubles you my friend. Is it the owiskela boy?" Towacanoet shook his head. "No, it is Tow-ce-ny that I wish to speak to you about." Shy-yo-we-yooh nodded for him to continue. "I have seen the way he acts around the owiskela and it makes me wonder if he is one like you and if he should be apprenticed to you or another shaman?"
"I noticed his actions as well and he may be of that sort. I do not know if he should be a shaman. That is not the only path. Does he act like a woman in any way?" Towacanoet shook his head and chuckled. "No, he does not. You should have seen the perfect shot that he took that killed the Huron. No I believe he is a warrior. He did not hesitate to kill the Huron. I am proud of him."
"What of the owiskela? Is he the same?" Towacanoet shook his head. "I do not know. I know how most owiskela's think about such things. It is possible, but we will have to wait and see."
"Yes, when he is better the boy will make his preference known."
"There is one other thing that I wish to ask you about. Before his father joined the ancestors, he asked me take the boy as my son and teach him."
"Is this something that you wish to do?" Towacanoet was silent as he thought about it. Shy-yo-we-yooh was content to wait for the answer. Towacanoet looked at his friend and nodded. "Yes. Andrew was a friend, a brother, I would gladly do this for him, if the boy wishes it. If he wishes to be raised by his own people, I will bring him to them and tell them of what happened. But if he wishes to join my family, I will take him into our clan. He is old enough to make that decision. When we arrived at their home, he and his father had already killed several of the Hurons."
"That is good. He has the makings of a warrior. Now he must be taught the Onyota'a:ka way, so that he can help the nation and the clan. I will dream on this tonight and maybe the Great Spirit will guide me and give me answers."
"Thank you my friend. May the Great Spirit guide your dreams." Towacanoet got up and left the shaman. They had to send news to other the nearby Oneida villages about the raiding Hurons. He knew that he would have to go to the white men to tell them of what had happened to the family of his friend Andrew.
Later that night when it was time to sleep, Tow-ce-ny lay down next to Caleb. During the night he felt Caleb moving about and moaning a little as if having a bad dream. He moved next to his friend and put his arm around him to comfort his dreams. Caleb's movements subsided and he returned to a more restful sleep.
Tow-ce-ny woke first and he saw that Caleb had turned in his sleep so that he was facing him. He felt Caleb's breath on his face. He reached and pushed a lock of Caleb's reddish brown hair away from his face. Tow-ce-ny stroked the side of Caleb's smooth face. Almost immediately the boy began to stir. Tow-ce-ny pulled his hand back. Caleb began to blink his eyes a little before opening them fully. He saw his friend, Tow-ce-ny lying next to him with his head propped up on his hand.
"Otter? Wha…where…" Caleb looked at his surroundings and saw that he was inside one of the Oneida longhouses. Tow-ce-ny saw the moment Caleb remembered what had happened because of the sadness that came to his eyes. He looked at Tow-ce-ny and there were tears in his eyes. "Otter, my Pa?" He saw the truth in Tow-ce-ny or Otter as he called him, since that was one meaning of his name. "All of them?" Tow-ce-ny nodded. Caleb started to curl into a ball when he felt the pain of his wound and gasped. He looked at the leather band around his chest.
"A Huron arrow hit you in your back. Our Shaman tended your wound."
"What's going to happen to me?" Tow-ce-ny shook his head. "We will talk to my father. He will have an answer for you. Can you move?" Caleb didn't answer but instead began to roll over. That is when he realized he was not wearing anything. He clutched the blanket around him and noticed that Tow-ce-ny was also naked. "Uhm…where are my clothes?" Tow-ce-ny looked at his friend as he climbed off the platform naked and put his breechclout on. He looked at his friend and pointed. "Your trousers are there. Your shirt was no good and Shy-yo-we-yooh, used the good part to cover your wound."
Caleb looked around and saw his trousers on the ground. When he tried to lean down and grab them, it pulled on the wound and made him grit his teeth. "Otter, would you get my trousers for me, so I can get dressed?" Tow-ce-ny looked at him quizzically. "Here I will help you get up." Tow-ce-ny put words to actions and pulled the blanket and furs out of the way, completely exposing Caleb. Caleb let out a yelp of surprise realizing that everyone could see him. Before he could protest, Tow-ce-ny reached behind his shoulders and carefully lifted him up until he was standing by the platform. Caleb felt blood rush to his face when he realized that, T-he-wet, his friend's twin sister was standing nearby after having just put her skirt on and saw Caleb standing there completely naked. The blush seemed to spread all over his body as he realized he could see her young developing breasts and his eyes opened wide. He started to quickly reach down to pick up his pants, when a wave of dizziness hit him and if not for Tow-ce-ny standing right there he would have fallen to the floor at T-he-wet's feet.
"Easy my brother. Here sit. I will get them for you." Caleb allowed himself to be made to sit while Tow-ce-ny picked his pants up off the floor and handed them to him. He practically jumped into them to cover everything up. He glanced at T-he-wet in total embarrassment. She was looking at him with a friendly smile, just as if it was normal for her to see boys without clothes on. As Caleb glanced around he saw that she probably did as he saw several men, boys, girls and women getting dressed for the day. Many of the youngest children wore nothing at all as they scampered around and let out childish laughter.
"Good morning Caleb. How are you feeling this day?" Caleb looked at Towacanoet. "Sore, but I think I'm okay." Towacanoet nodded. "Come, let us go see Shy-yo-we-yooh so he can check your wound while the women make our meal." Caleb glanced at T-he-wet before nodding and started to stand. Tow-ce-ny helped him stand and walked beside him as they followed Towacanoet out of the longhouse. They walked to the shaman's smaller hut. Kon-to-lon-ty saw them coming and ducked inside. He came out moments later and waved for them to come in.
Inside the dwelling, Shy-yo-we-yooh bid them sit. He told his apprentice to bring his bag and went over to Caleb. He looked at the binding of the bandage and leaned down to sniff it. He nodded as he moved away. He looked at Towacanoet. "It is good. The wound does not smell bad. I think he will heal. Come back in two days. He needs to eat much as he can and rest, to make his blood strong since he lost a lot." Towacanoet nodded his thanks and looked at Caleb. He translated the shaman's words since he spoke no English and Caleb didn't really know any Oneida except a very few words. "Shy-yo-we-yooh says that your wound looks good, but you need to eat and rest to strengthen you." Caleb looked at the old man who was looking at him with a smile. He used one of the few phrases he knew. "Yawa'ko." The older man smiled at him and patted him on the shoulder.
They left the Shaman's hut and returned to family's longhouse. Caleb was starting to feel a little tired and Tow-ce-ny helped him to sit down. He glanced at T-he-wet and quickly looked down as he felt his cheeks flush, as he remembered she had seen him naked and he has seen her partly naked. She gave a little giggle and said something to her brother. Caleb did not see them look at him as he had his head lowered trying not to meet her gaze. Tow-ce-ny also saw the redness in Caleb's cheeks and he too smiled as he remembered how the owsikela felt about seeing each other without clothes. The English men in the black robes were always telling them, that they should not see each other naked, but most of the Oneida ignored him. They had always lived this way and it did not bother them to see each other naked. He knew his brother would have to get used to it since he would be living with them now.
"My brother you should rest while the morning meal is prepared. I have things I must do, but I will be back soon and we will eat." Caleb nodded and let Tow-ce-ny help him to lay back. He found that he did feel a little tired and his eyes closed as Tow-ce-ny covered him up.
A gentle shake touch on his shoulder woke him up a little bit later. He opened his eyes and saw T-he-wet standing next to him. She smiled when she saw he was awake. "Caleb it is time to eat. Can you sit up?" He looked at her and glanced at her chest before looking down and nodded, conscious of the fact that he had no shirt on. He had just pushed the blankets and furs out of the way when Tow-ce-ny came in. He saw Caleb trying to get up and went over to help him. When he was sitting up, T-he-wet handed Caleb a bowl with a stew of some sort in it. Caleb looked at it and dipped the wooden spoon into it to take a taste and as the taste hit his mouth, he realized how hungry he was. She brought her brother a bowl as well and he sat next to Caleb. Towacanoet sat with them.
"Caleb, I have something important I must ask you." Caleb looked at Towacanoet and nodded. "Yes sir?"
"Your father's words to me before he died were to take you into my family and teach you what I know. He wanted to you to live here with us. You are old enough to have a say in such decisions. Is this something that you wish to do?"
Caleb looked down, not eating as he digested what he was being asked. He thought about his family and the empty spot in his place. He had no other family around. He didn't know if any other family would take him in. Towacanoet and his family were friends and Tow-ce-ny was like a brother. He felt the tears run and drip off his face. He felt Tow-ce-ny take the bowl from his slack hands and put an arm across his shoulders. He leaned into his friend and felt a new feeling well up in his chest and that eased the ache in his heart. He looked at Towacanoet.
"What about my family's farm? What do I do about that?" Towacanoet shrugged. "That is your decision. Do you have other family that you wish to live with?" Caleb shook his head. "No they were my only family." He felt Tow-ce-ny tighten his grip. "We will be your family Caleb. You will be my brother." He looked at Tow-ce-ny sitting beside him and after a few moments nodded. Tow-ce-ny smiled and let go. Almost immediately Caleb missed the feeling of Tow-ce-ny's arm around him. It surprised him how much he liked how it felt.
"I would like to go back to the farm to get some things." Towacanoet nodded. "In a few days when you are stronger, we will go." Caleb nodded in agreement as Tow-ce-ny handed his bowl of food back to him. They finished eating and Tow-ce-ny helped him to lie back down. "You rest here. T-eh-wet will tend you until I get back later today." Caleb nodded, his eyes already closing as he allowed himself to get some more rest.
Tow-ce-ny was working with the other men and teens to get the ground ready so that the women could plant crops. In the middle of the afternoon, T-he-wet came running into the clearing. She looked around and upon spying her father, she ran over to him. Tow-ce-ny saw his twin sister talking with his father. Towacanoet waved for Tow-ce-ny to come over to him.
"Tow-ce-ny go with your sister to take care of your brother." Tow-ce-ny nodded and followed her back to their longhouse. "What is wrong sister?"
"Caleb was groaning in his sleep. When I went to see what was wrong, he was sweating." Tow-ce-ny was worried and he began to jog back to the longhouse. He went inside and found their mother sitting next to Caleb and bathing his face. She looked at Tow-ce-ny and waved for him to replace her. She handed him a damp cloth. "Good, take over for me, while I get Shy-yo-we-yooh to come and look at him."
Tow-ce-ny quickly took her place as he looked down on Caleb with worry. Caleb's face was flushed and he was sweating. When Tow-ce-ny felt his friend's face it was very hot to the touch. A few minutes later his mother returned with the shaman and his apprentice. Shy-yo-we-yooh waved Tow-ce-ny to the side so that he could look at the boy. He felt his head and gave Kon-to-lon-ty instructions. His apprentice took some leaves out of the healer's bag and made a tea. While he was doing that, the shaman had Tow-ce-ny help him roll Caleb on his side so that he could look at the wound.
When he pulled the bandage free, he could see that the edges of the wound had a reddish tint to it. He knew that could be bad for the boy. He barked out instructions to Kon-to-lon-ty who quickly got to work. A short time later, Shy-yo-we-yooh replaced the poultice with a new one. He asked if there was anything left of the boy's shirt that he had used the day before. Konwagalet produced what was left of the shirt and the shaman tore another large piece of it to cover the poultice.
He looked at Tow-ce-ny. "You must try to cool his body. If the sweating does not go away, he will not live."
"I will stay with him day and night until he is well. Shy-yo-we-yooh looked at the young man for a several moments before nodding. "That is good. Cool him down and keep him clean. Make him drink water as often as possible. The sickness could last a few suns."
"I will do everything that I can for him. I will make him well."
Kon-to-lon-ty brought a bowl over to them and the shaman took it. He tasted it and nodded his satisfaction to his apprentice. "Well done." He had Tow-ce-ny lift Caleb up. He put the bowl to Caleb's lips and poured the tea into his mouth. Some dripped out but the shaman rubbed on Caleb's throat and he began to swallow the tea. Shy-yo-we-yooh kept giving him sips of the tea until it is all gone. He nodded. "Good, the drink will help cool him down. I will have Kon-to-lon-ty come back when it is time for more medicine."
He stood up and the two of them left the longhouse. Tow-ce-ny sat beside Caleb and wiped his face. He did the same for his torso and his arms. T-he-wet made sure he had water when he needed it. She placed one damp cloth on his forehead to help her brother cool down the boy. She liked the way the owiskela boy looked and she felt something inside her when she looked at him. She had felt a tingling feeling when she had seen him without clothes that morning. She found that she liked the way he looked with or without clothes. She hoped that he would get better soon.
When Towacanoet returned he saw his son sitting by Caleb. He checked with him and was told that there was no change. He patted his son on the shoulder before going over to get a meal from his wife. She sent T-he-wet to bring a meal to his brother. He ate next to Caleb. Kon-to-lon-ty brought another dose of the medicine and he helped Tow-ce-ny give it to Caleb.
The one thing that was the one of the hardest parts about tending Caleb was when he made a mess in his trousers. Tow-ce-ny had to strip his clothes off and clean him up. T-he-wet helped him clean Caleb up. She volunteered to clean his trousers. They put one of Tow-ce-ny's breechclouts on him as they believed it would be easier to keep him clean. The twin siblings each felt something inside of them for the white boy that they tended.
During the night Tow-ce-ny was awakened by Caleb's moans. He woke up and bathed him. When he finished he lay down and gently stroked Caleb's skin. He wanted to make sure Caleb knew that someone was there for him.
Tow-ce-ny spent the next day tending to Caleb. He gave him the medicine that Kon-tol-lon-ty brought him. He and his sister had to clean Caleb again. Throughout the day Kon-to-lon-ty continued to bring medicine and checking the wound. Finally that evening Caleb's fever broke and Shy-yo-we-yooh was summoned to his side.
The shaman checked him over and changed the poultice once again. He was happy with what he saw and told them that the wound appeared to be healing well. When they rolled him to his back, Caleb opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was his friend Tow-ce-ny smiling at him. Tow-ce-ny without thinking placed his hand on the side of Caleb's face. "It is good to see you feeling better brother." Caleb gave him a little smile before closing his eyes. Tow-ce-ny looked at Shy-yo-we-yooh with alarm, but the shaman just smiled at him and patted his shoulder. "The boy will be fine. The fever has broken. He will be weak for a few more days, but after that he should be fine. Make sure he eats to regain his strength." With his final instructions he returned to his home.
The shaman was correct about Caleb. He was weak for the next few days and had to be helped to eat, drink and attend to nature. He became accustomed to wearing a breechclout. At first he was self conscious about it, especially when T-he-wet saw him, but he soon found it more comfortable. It was hardest when he went with his friend to relieve himself in the morning. He felt the cold more easily than Tow-ce-ny as he was used to wearing more clothes.
One morning T-he-wet presented him with leggings and moccasins that she had made for him. Tow-ce-ny showed him how they were attached to the belt for his breechclout. Once he put them on, he felt warmer in the morning since they covered his legs. He thanked her gratefully getting a shy smile in return.
Tow-ce-ny stayed with him as he grew stronger. Eventually Caleb was able to move around under his own steam. That evening he asked Towacanoet about visiting his family's farm. Towacanoet agreed to take him the next day. That evening as he and Tow-ce-ny lay together, he found it comforting to feel his friend next to him. When they woke the next day they had their arms around each other and Caleb no longer felt strange sleeping naked next to his friend.
The next morning Towacanoet led a hunting party that included Caleb and Tow-ce-ny. Caleb carried his father's rifle and rode on Ginny as he was still a little weak for any long walks. Tow-ce-ny had been given Caleb's old musket. They arrived at the farm and Caleb paid his respects to his family. He tried to be brave, but it was difficult. Tow-ce-ny being with him helped him face this loss. They checked inside the house and found that no one had been inside since the attack. Caleb looked around. He grabbed what clothes he had at the house, thinking it would be good to have some of them the next winter to keep warm. He picked a few kitchen things like pots and cooking utensils that he thought he could take back to give to Konwagalet for her use. He took many other items that he could give to both her and T-he-wet for their use. There were things of his father's that he took as well. They hooked Ginny up to their wagon and loaded many things onto it. Once Caleb was satisfied, he asked if they could go to a nearby farm whose owner had been friends of his parents.
When they pulled into the farm, they were greeted by armed men who had seen the party of Indians approaching. They knew of the attack on the Stewart farm and were wary as the word of more raids in the Mohawk Valley had reached them. The only reason they had not opened fire was that the group of Indians had been open in their approach, plus the wagon. When the party came near, there were happy faces when they recognized Caleb among the Indians. They realized that these were friends from the Oneida.
They were glad to see them and welcomed the Oneida among them. They all expressed their condolences to Caleb. He was told that they would help him tend his farm and one of them had said they would make a place for him in their home. Caleb was a little overwhelmed by the generosity. They were surprised when he told them instead that he was going to live with the Oneida and learn their ways as it was his father's last wish before he died. Towacanoet confirmed what had been told to him. They tried to tell him that his place was here with others like him, but he was adamant in wanting to follow his father's wishes and live with his friends. They accepted it and quit trying to get him to change his mind, although some thought he was making a mistake in his choice.
Caleb gave away many of the things that belonged to his family as he felt he would not need them and it would be better that they were used by others who could make use of them. One of the men who had been one of his father's best friends asked Caleb if he could farm his fields. Caleb said he would give them to the man, but he refused the offer. He told Caleb that in a few years if Caleb decided he wanted to become a farmer again, he would help Caleb get the farm going. Caleb protested but the man told him, that they could talk about it some other time. He would do what he could to make sure the farm was waiting for him and if at that time he decided he did not want the farm, the man would buy it from him. Caleb agreed. After a mid day meal, the Oneida party said their goodbyes. Caleb left the wagon with his father's friend as a gift, but the man said he would gladly borrow it and return it when Caleb had use of it. Caleb had to accept the man's decision. The Oneida party left the farm and headed back to their village.
A couple of weeks later Caleb was finally back up to full strength. Tow-ce-ny introduced him to one of the Oneida's favorite pastimes, Ka:lahse', the stick game. At first Caleb had a difficult time because he was shocked by the savagery of the game. Soon enough he got into it just like the other players and he gave as good as he got. By growing up working on the farm, he was already strong and he became stronger as he lived with the Oneida. He became quite good at Ka:lahse' and learned how to make his own stick for the game.
Besides taking part in the stick game Towacanoet followed through on what he had been asked by his friend Andrew. He taught Caleb the ways of the Oneida warrior. As the weeks went by there were more stories of raids by the Huron, Mohawk and Seneca who were allied with the British against the colonists who now called themselves Americans. The Oneida sided with the colonists in the fight. Tow-ce-ny taught him as well. In return Caleb taught the Oneida how to shoot better.
A couple of months later, he and Tow-ce-ny were on a hunting trip of a few days. With them were Caleb's two horses that they were using as pack animals. That night they were lying together as they always did. "Caleb. I have something I must say to you my brother." Caleb looked at his friend and nodded. "I need to tell you that I have deep feelings for you."
Caleb smiled at him "I have deep feelings for you as well my brother."
Tow-ce-ny shook his head and Caleb frowned a little, confused now. "No Caleb, I mean my feelings are like my father has for my mother. I have those feelings for you."
Caleb's eyes opened wide as he realized what Tow-ce-ny was saying. He had lived among the Oneida long enough now to know what Tow-ce-ny meant. He knew that Kon-to-lon-ty, the healer's apprentice was one like that. Tow-ce-ny became worried as he saw the look on his brother's face. He began to move away, but was stopped by a hand on his arm. He looked at Caleb.
"Tow-ce-ny. I don't think I am that way." Tow-ce-ny looked down in disappointment but Caleb's next words made him look up. "But my brother my feelings for you are similar. I love you. You have been beside me and helped while I learned the ways of the Onyota'a:ka. I have found that I like the life that I have with you." He was silent for a moment before continuing. "Among the whites, those that feel as you do are thought to be wrong in the head and it is against the law, but I have seen in my time with the Onyota'a:ka that it is not that way with your people, who are now my people too. Because of my new family I fully embrace the life of the Onyota'a:ka and so, I cannot reject your feelings as I think in a way they match mine. I feel good when we lay together like this."
Two-ce-ny looked at Caleb for a few moments. "My brother may I share my feelings with you?" Caleb didn't hesitate and nodded. That night the two of them shared their love with each other and slept well that night.
The two teens became very close and they shared their love many times when they were able to be alone. Towacanoet saw the closeness of the boys and accepted it. He talked to his friend Shy-yo-we-yooh about it. He told Towacanoet not to worry about it. If they are that way, then it is the Great Spirit's wish for them to be that way. T-he-wet also noticed the boy's closeness and she felt disappointment that that closeness that Caleb shared with her brother was not directed to her.
Much of the summer the two boys enjoyed their love for each other and playing Ka:lahse'. Some of the games are huge and might cover miles. It was explained to him that in way this game was a way to train for war without killing each other. Sometimes Caleb wasn't so sure with the way the Oneida played the stick game. Many times it seemed to have the same intensity of war.
At first Caleb's lighter skin had burned but now he was tanned and his hair was long and loose. Tow-ce-ny kidded him about his hair because Tow-ce-ny wore his hair in the Oneda way with just a strip of hair down the center and back of his head. He teased Caleb that he would cut Caleb's hair one night while he slept. Caleb threatened that he would not share his love with him, if he did that, so it never happened.
Caleb enjoyed his life among the Oneida and was slowly learning the language. He was able to talk and understand enough to get his point across after some work. Sometimes it was a mix of Oneida and English. He wasn't fluent, but he kept working at it and slowly got better in his understanding. There were many times that he needed Tow-ce-ny to translate for him. Especially when those around him were talking too fast for him to follow their words. Late in the summer an Oneida leader, Han Yerry, arrived at their village with some Colonial soldiers, led by an officer. The leader told them that they were asking for Oneida warriors to join them to help break the siege of Fort Stanwix. The fort was besieged by a force of British Regulars, Loyalist forces, Hessian soldiers and allied Indian forces that included Mohawks, Seneca and Huron warriors. The British forces were led by Brigadier General Barry St. Leger and the Iroquois leader Joseph Brant. They were part of a relief force that was led by General Nicholas Herkimer with the Tryon County Militia and Han Yerry a leader of the Oneida. Han Yerry interpreted for the Colonial officer and told them that they needed all the warriors that the village could spare to help them break the siege.
Towacanoet talked with Shy-yo-we-yooh and they chose the number of warriors who would go with the Colonial soldiers. Most of those chosen had guns. They had learned from Caleb on how to shoot them and were good shots overall. Tow-ce-ny and Caleb both volunteered to go as well and he accepted them. He had seen his son kill a Huron and from the story that Caleb had told him, Caleb had shot and killed at least two of the Huron that attacked his family. They had both shown that they were good shots with their guns and Caleb's rifle and its accuracy might be needed. Besides this would give Caleb a chance to get back at the warriors who had killed his family, the Huron.
That afternoon, Caleb asked Tow-ce-ny to cut his hair like an Oneida. He thought that if he was going into battle with the Oneida, he should look like an Onieda. He and Tow-ce-ny went to a nearby stream. He sat down and Tow-ce-ny began to shave most of his hair off until just a wide center stripe of hair was left. When Tow-ce-ny finished, he began to giggle a little bit.
"You should have done this a moon ago. The skin where your hair was is white. It doesn't look right."
Caleb knelt over the water and was able to see his reflection. Tow-ce-ny was right, it did look a little strange with the white strips of skin on either side of the strip of hair. When they went back to the longhouse, Towacanoet chuckled at the sight of Caleb's head. T-he-wet and Konwagalet both giggled. Towacanoet walked over to the two boys. He clapped Caleb on the shoulder. "Now you look like an Onyata'a:ka. Well mostly." Caleb blushed a little bit. "You are ready to fight with us when we go to war and make me proud to claim you as a son. Come, eat. Then you must rest well this night, for we leave early to go with our warriors who go to help the owiskela soldiers in the fort."
T-he-wet bit her lip to keep from giggling when she brought Caleb his meal. "Don't laugh, I didn't think about how I would look. I feel like an Onyota'a:ka, even if I don't look quite like one." She smiled at him. "You look like an Onyota'a:ka to me." Then she gave him a smile and hurried back to her mother's side. Caleb looked at his friend with a wry grin. "Okay, maybe it was not such a good idea right now." Tow-ce-ny gave him a big smile and clapped him on the shoulder before he started eating.
The next morning the warriors of the village had smiles on their faces when they saw Caleb. They looked at him and said a word that Caleb didn't understand that made them laugh. The word they were saying was ani:tas. He had to ask Tow-ce-ny what it meant. He could see Tow-ce-ny trying hard not to laugh with the other warriors. Caleb glared at him. "What?"
"They call you Skunk, Ani'tas, because of the two white stripes on your head." Caleb put his hand up to his head and scowled at the other warriors of the village and that only caused them to laugh even more. After a little while his look softened to a wry grin and he accepted it. He knew that his head did look strange compared to the rest of the warriors. Towacanoet came up to him and smiled. "Come Ani:tas my son. Let us go to fight the Huron and their friends."
Caleb smiled and they joined the others who was going to go with Han Yerry and the soldiers. The day was overcast as they walked the few miles to where the Colonial soldiers were camped near Oriskany. The entire force moved out when they joined them. When they joined the other Oneida warriors, Caleb once again noticed the looks that were directed at him by the other Oneida that were with the force. He saw some of the warriors from his village go to a couple of them who had called them over to ask who the owiskela was. They told them a little about Caleb and why his head looked strange. That of course got more of them laughing and grinning at him. He just shook his head and tried to ignore them as his face became a little flushed. The name of Ani:tas stuck.
The camp was packed up and they moved out. The fort had been under siege for four days and General Herkimer was worried that they wouldn't make it in time. His column consisted of about 900 men counting the militia and the Oneida warriors. General Herkimer hurried them along, wanting to get to the fort with the men and supplies that they carried. The force was divided into four regiments of 200 men each with the warriors as flank guards. One of the regiments guarded the baggage train at the rear of the column.
They had to cross several narrow ravines to get to the fort. They had just gone down the eastern slope of one of the ravines and were just starting to climb up the western side of the ravine when a huge volley of gunfire hit them from the flanks. The gunfire was followed by a yell from the Indian warriors who stood up on both sides. Most of the column was trapped in the ravine. The regiment guarding the baggage train fired for a short time before turning and running away with the baggage and ammunition train, leaving the bulk of the force behind. General Herkimer was hit in the initial volley. The ball went through his leg and killed his horse. Caleb was nearby when the General fell and was one of those who helped him get settled near a tree sitting on his saddle. When he looked at the men who had helped him, Herkimer was taken aback when he saw the green eyes of Caleb.
He saw that this was not an Oneida even though he was dressed as one. "Who are you boy?"
"Caleb Stewart sir."
The General looked him up and down before asking him, "Why are you dressed like an Indian?"
"My family was killed a few months ago by some Huron and our friends in the Oneida took me in, so I came to fight as an Oneida."
The General looked at him again and noted the white strips on his head. He pointed at Caleb's head. "What happened to your head?" Caleb blushed. "I had my brother cut my hair yesterday like an Oneida warrior. I should have done it long ago so it didn't look so funny. Now many of the other warriors have taken to call me Ani:tas, it means skunk." The General gave out a loud laugh and then winced at the pain from his wound. He pointed at saddlebags on his dead horse. "Well I can see why they say that. Go and grab my bags and bring them here." Caleb looked at the horse a short distance away and nodded. He grabbed the bags and handed them to the General. Herkimer opened up one of the bags and pulled out his pipe and tobacco. Caleb could only look in surprise as the General filled his pipe and calmly lit it. He pointed the pipe at Caleb's rifle. "You know how to use that rifle boy?" Caleb looked down and nodded. "Yes sir."
"Then I suggest you get to shooting. Otherwise you may not make it."
Caleb looked around and realized he'd just been kneeling there and talking with the General while all around him was the sounds of a battle. He nodded to the General. "I'm going to find my friends sir." Herkimer nodded. "You do that. Take care boy." He then turned and began giving orders to the officers nearby.
Caleb looked around for any of the warriors that he knew. He saw a small group of Oneida and headed that way. As he ran through the woods, he saw many of the militiamen fire and then reload. When they stopped to reload one of the enemy Indians would rush them and tomahawk them. The first time he saw one of them charge a militiaman, he lifted his rifle and fired, killed the attacking Indian. He was almost a victim of the same tactic himself after he fired his rifle, but a nearby militiaman killed the charging Indian who tried to get him.
From that point forward he saw the men fire in pairs, one would fire while the other waited for an enemy Indian to charge, then he shot the attacker. One of them was always ready to fire while the other reloaded. He quickly reloaded and continued to look for his friends. Everywhere he looked he saw Indians and the enemy soldiers firing on them. As he ran looking for Tow-ce-ny or Towacanoet he would join with these groups of soldiers for a short time.
They had been fighting for almost an hour when an order went out and Caleb saw the men form themselves into many small circles and begin to fight from those formations. Caleb joined a nearby circle and fought with the soldiers and a few other Oneida warriors that he didn't know.
Suddenly the clouds opened up and rain came down in a steady downpour. The two sides stopped and tried to keep their powder dry. Because the British led force had pulled back, it gave Herkimer's force a chance to regroup. They formed into a single large circle with General Herkimer in the middle where he could direct the battle. When that happened Caleb finally found Towacanoet and Tow-ce-ny. All of them were overjoyed to find that the other had made it.
"My brother you are well?" Caleb nodded and Tow-ce-ny hugged him. Towacanoet joined the hug. Very glad to see both of his sons had survived so far. The rain lasted for an hour or so. As soon as it abated, they were rushed by the enemy again. There was hand to hand fighting at many points of the circle. Some of the men died in each other's arms.
The fighting went on and on. Men died on both sides. At one point of the battle, a group of the loyalist forces who wore green coats, tried to infiltrate the militia ranks, but one of the officers recognized them by their green coats, even though they had turned them inside out and gave the order to open fire. The fighting was savage between the green coated loyalist and men who had once been neighbors, when they joined in hand to hand combat with tomahawks and knives.
Slowly Herkimer's force fought their way to the top of the western side of the ravine. The men were tiring as the battle had been going on for hours. They heard a yell that got the attention of one of the Oneida. "Oonah, oonah!" They saw attacking warriors jumping up from their positions and run away. Herkimer's men continued to fire as they yelled their defiance. He heard the nearby Oneida warriors say that the words they heard were Seneca words telling their warriors to retreat. Caleb and the Oneida near him jumped up with joy. They had survived. He had turned to Towacanoet when he felt something fall against his back.
He staggered and turned around to see an arrow standing out of the right side of the chest of his brother Tow-ce-ny. He looked at the forest and saw a Seneca lowering his bow. Caleb screamed and brought his rifle up to fire. The Seneca turned to run and Caleb's shot took him in the back throwing him forward. All around their position they began to see more of the Indian forces leave the battle. Once the Indian forces began to leave, they started seeing the Loyalist forces retreat as well, because the majority of their force had been the Mohawk, Seneca, Huron, Onondaga and Cayuga Indian warriors.
He dropped beside his brother, laying his rifle down. He grabbed Tow-ce-ny's hand in his. Tow-ce-ny looked at Caleb and gave him a little smile. "It is my turn, brother."
"Don't worry Otter, I will tend you as you tended me."
"We must get him back to Shy-yo-we-yooh." Towacanoet looked around and saw that the enemy was leaving. The militiamen were getting their wounded together so that they could retire from the field. Towacanoet and the other warriors from their village that had survived gathered around them. He looked at his warriors. "We must get him home."
The warriors quickly constructed a litter made of branches and uniform jackets taken from the enemy dead for Tow-ce-ny. The militiamen also built litters for their wounded. As soon as they could, they moved out. They left their dead behind and unknown to them many wounded men. Those who could, kept a close watch all around them, just in case the British force continued the attack.
When they were far enough away, the militiamen headed to Fort Dayton, while the Oneida returned to their villages. General Herkimer noticed Caleb next to the litter and waved to him. The warriors took turns carrying Tow-ce-ny's litter so that they could keep going at a face pace. Caleb stayed by the side of the litter holding tightly to his brother's hand as they moved swiftly through the forest. It was nearly dark when they reached their village. As soon as they arrived, Towacanoet sent one of the men to bring the shaman to his longhouse. The sound of the returning warriors brought everyone out of the longhouses. Konwagalet gave out a cry when she saw their burden. Tow-ce-ny was brought into their longhouse and laid on his bed. By this time Tow-ce-ny was unconscious, but Caleb kept a tight hold of his hand, only letting go while they got him situated on his bed.
Shy-yo-we-yooh and Kon-to-lon-ty arrived moments later. The shaman looked at the young warrior and starting barking instructions to his apprentice. Herbs and other ingredients were pulled out and Kon-to-lon-ty began mixing things. The first thing Shy-yo-we-yooh did was grasp the arrow and pull it out. Tow-ce-ny gave out a loud groan but did not wake up. The shaman starting singing as he tended to the boy. He waved the smoke of the smoldering cedar bundle across his body as he had done with Caleb before he started applying the healing poultice. Caleb quickly supplied one of his extra shirts for the bandage. At no time did Tow-ce-ny wake up.
Caleb sat beside his brother praying that he would be okay. T-he-wet came and sat beside Caleb. There were tears in her eyes as she looked at her twin brother. Caleb put his arm around her as she leaned into him as they kept their vigil beside him. At some time during the night they both fell asleep, leaning against each other.
Caleb slowly woke up and blinked his eyes. He found T-he-wet was asleep lying in his lap. "Ani:tas." Caleb looked down and saw Tow-ce-ny looking at him with a slight smile."
"Otter, how do you feel?"
"A little tired." Caleb looked him in the eyes and he saw what he expected. Tears came to his eyes and his chin began to quiver a little bit, but he swallowed it down. Tow-ce-ny reached out and Caleb took his hand. The two brothers, lovers, and friends looked in each other's eyes for what seemed like a long time.
"I'm sorry Caleb, that I will not be able travel the road with you." Caleb started to shake his head. "No it is true, you can see it. I know you can. I can see the truth in your eyes."
He looked at his sister lying asleep in Caleb's lap. "I know that you are not like me, but I thank you for the love that you have shared with me. Our sister looks at you with longing. I have seen it. I think you will be good for each other. When I am gone, you will need each other. I think you will walk the long road together and have many children."
He took a couple of breaths and closed his eyes as a wave of pain hit him. "Otter, I love you. Please stay with me." Tow-ce-ny opened his eyes and gave him another smile. Caleb could see that his teeth and his lips had a slight tinge of red. "No my brother. The Great Spirit calls me to join my ancestors. It is my time."
Caleb wanted to say no. He wanted to run for Shy-yo-we-yooh. He wanted someone to do something, but he saw the truth in Tow-ce-ny's eyes. He saw that he was very pale and the blood on his lips and teeth told Caleb everything he needed to know. It wouldn't be too much longer before the end. He looked at Tow-ce-ny and nodded.
"I know Otter. I hear the truth. I will miss you."
"And I you." He looked at his twin and smiled. "Take care of her my brother." Caleb nodded. "I will. I promise." Tow-ce-ny nodded. "If the ancestors will it, we will meet again when your road is ended."
"I will look forward to that day." Tow-ce-ny smiled and gave a weak squeeze of their joined hands. "Goodbye my brother." Caleb nodded as he watched Tow-ce-ny close his eyes and take one final breath. When he felt the hand go slack he gently laid it on his chest and then bent over T-he-wet and wept.
His crying woke her up. She looked up at Caleb and then over to her brother. She saw that his chest no longer moved and she put her arms around Caleb as she joined him in crying for her twin.
Their sorrow woke up Towacanoet and Konwagalet. They came over to them and saw that Tow-ce-ny's spirit had left him. They comforted the two young people, joining them in their grief.
Shy-yo-we-yooh was called. They cleaned Tow-ce-ny up and dressed him in his best clothes. Several of the men prepared his grave. He was laid inside and his bow and arrow were laid in there with him. Caleb put a necklace that he had been making for him into his hands. The shaman sang his prayers as he smudged the smoke over the grave and those who were there. They covered him over and returned to the village.
The rest of the day was somber for Caleb. T-eh-wet and Caleb spent the day together comforting each other.
During the next few weeks, the village endured attack by those of the Iroquois Confederacy who were siding with the British. In October they heard that the British were soundly defeated at Saratoga and the fighting in the area began to taper off. There was still basically a civil war among the Iroquois Confederacy between those that supported the British and those that supported the Colonists.
As it began to get colder, both Caleb and T-he-wet turned sixteen and Caleb asked Towacanoet if he could take her as his wife. It was agreed and they were married. They started their long road together as Tow-ce-ny had said they would. By the end of summer Caleb welcomed the first of his children, Tow-we-ah with a Christian name of Anthony. The name Ani:tas stuck with him.
Caleb shook his head to clear it. He could hear his Grandfather John singing and he opened his eyes. He looked around trying to recapture the vision he had just lived through. It had all felt so real to him. Now he knew where he and his grandfather had gotten their light colored eyes. Long ago there had been the first Caleb who had started their family. He owed a lot to that young man.
He looked across the lodge at his grandfather. There was a big smile on John's face. "You saw, didn't you Grandson?" Caleb nodded. "It was so real. It wasn't like a story or a movie. It felt like I was living it. All of my senses were engaged. I still feel the sadness that Caleb felt when Tow-ce-ny died."
"Yes, that is the way it was for me as well." He gestured to the door of the lodge. "Come Grandson, let us go outside and join your Uncle."
They made their way outside. John looked up and began to sing a final prayer. Caleb and David both joined him. When they finished, David handed them blankets to cover up while they put the fire out. David didn't ask them anything about what had happened in the sweat lodge. It was something just for them. He merely hugged his nephew. John looked at his son and his grandson and smiled. "Come, let's go back home." They put their clothes back on and walked home with their arms around each other's shoulders. Caleb was in the middle, surrounded by his family. He hoped that Jay would be the person that he would walk the long road with and if the spirits willed it, maybe he would meet his namesake one day.