Peoples Clash

August 9, 2008
Running. Faster, faster, faster, weaving between trees and jumping over roots, running as fast as possible; running as swift as a hare. His vision was a blur of the distinctive browns of the oak, walnut, and poplar trees with their bare branches looking ghastly in the fading light. On he ran as the dead leaves produced a dry crunch below his moccasined feet. His name is not important, and his background is lost to the wind. He is a scout. On he ran; continuously getting closer to the tribe, getting closer to his destination. On he ran, faltering, stumbling, and out of breath due to his long travail from the end of the earth and the beginning of the sea. On he ran, his footsteps falling as endlessly and consistently as the ticks of a clock.

He wore little, even in the chilly air. His clothing was made from deer skin embellished with intricate patterns of red dye. On his back he sported a quiver made from tree bark and full of arrows with stone tips. Across his shoulder laid a strung bow, close at hand if the need called for it. His elongated body had limbs that looked like they belonged on deer. His bronze skin was darkened by many days out in the sun, and his hair was lengthy, straight, and as black as a moonless night. His eyes were as sharp as an eagle’s.

By now the sun had almost set behind the horizon and its pale light was barley visible though the shadows of the forest. The scout’s long, lanky legs shortened their strides as the fire of his tribe came into view. He slowed to a steady pace and fought to catch his breath in long wheezing gasps as he circled around and entered the clearing. Those still awake looked up in wonder at the untimely arrival of the scout; their faces seeming oddly dark and foreboding in the dancing fire light. He had finally finished his extensive race to the tribe and he received his reward, a few moments of rest to breath in the clean, crisp air. However, his news was important and he knew he had to tell it at once.

“Where is the Chief”, the scout said still fighting for air, “I must speak to him”. One of the warriors of the tribe pointed to a large primitive hut made of logs plastered with mud and bark at the edge of the clearing where the tribe’s camp was set up. The scout took one more long breath and started for the hut.

When he entered the strange smells of the confined air made his nose flare up. He noted the aroma of smoked meat and burning wood, but many smells he could not even begin to place. The hut was crowded with baskets, hunting traps, animal skins, bows and arrows. The wizened Chief sat just off center of the hut, with a fire to his right, upon a variety of elaborately dyed animal skins. The scout approached as his heart beat rapidly in anticipation of coming in front of his Chief. “Do you have news scout?” the Chief asked with the authority of one who knew they were in charge.
“I come from the end of the land and the start of the water without end”, the scout started tensely. “Upon the water I sighted something strange, and beyond my comprehension. There it was, a large canoe, but it had skin stretched out above it, and it seemed many leagues away. I watched it for a long time and it constantly came closer and closer, growing ever larger and larger. I knew not what it was, so I thought it wise to come and inform you of this abnormal sight”.

The Chief sat there for a long time staring intently at nothing at all, but when he spoke he spoke deliberately; “we will sleep tonight and in the morning a counsel will be called to discuss your sighting of this canoe”. Having nothing else to say the scout bowed down once more and left for his own hut to sleep away the weariness of his journey.

At first light the counsel meeting took place in the middle of the tribal village. All the central men of the tribe were seated around a fire pit awaiting the scout’s news. The scout approached the counsel timidly, for he was a younger member of the tribe and had never been part of a counsel meeting. “Come”, the Chief said pointing to the spot opposite him across the smoldering fire, “take your seat”. The scout breathed deeply, took his seat, and looked around the fire. The counsel members were a variety of warriors, hunters, and spiritual leaders of the tribe. All were the most experienced in their relative field of expertise, and all were shrouded with majesty and regal charisma.
“We may now begin”, the Chief started. “One of our scouts has arrived with some unpleasant reports”. The Chief’s voice was solemn and as he spoke his dark eyes stared at the scout who felt his heart beat faster in his chest. “He reports to have seen something strange and unnatural in the water, something like a large canoe, but unlike any canoe he has ever seen”. All eyes now turned to the scout and he felt the fear of his elders. “Our scout thought this sighting bizarre enough to travel a long way to tell us of it”. The scout gulped dreading that the Chief would be unhappy with his decision to leave his regular route and while the seconds ticked by his fear escalated and peaked to almost an unbearable amount just as the Chief spoke again; “and I agree with his decision”. The scout sighed audibly and felt his chest swell with pride, but it was short lived as the Chief stretched his mind past his petty worries about himself. “This sighting is not only strange but it is also disturbing in the extreme. We must mobilize all of the warriors at once to see it, and I shall go too”.

The eyes of the counsel left the scout turning at once to the Chief, and so many of them started to speak at once that the scout only caught bits and pieces of their objections and questions.
“You must not go, it would be lunacy.”
“Are you proposing leaving the tribe defenseless and leaderless?”
“Will not half the warriors be enough?”
“You trust the word of this scout as much to put the entire tribe at danger, not to mention yourself?”
“The sighting was probably just a mirage, a dream, or fantastical vision.”
As the objections continued the scout felt like shrinking into a small hole, but he pushed back these feelings and raised his voice loud and clear above the chatter in defense of himself. “I know what I saw, and it was not an animal, mirage, a dream, or vision. It was a colossal canoe, larger than any you have seen before. We must go see it, and soon, for it brings danger. The Chief must go also, for his counsel is wise and will be needed.”
The scout was amazed and suddenly embarrassed at himself. He had no intention of speaking and undeniably no intention of saying so much, but he knew that the canoe brought some danger, he knew not how he knew it, he just knew it and had known ever since he saw it; that was why he had left his route and traveled as fast as he could to arrive here as soon as possible. “If you have nothing else to say I bid you to sit down”, the Chief said. The scout looked around in wonder for he did not remember standing. As he took his seat the Chief continued, “You need not be embarrassed young scout, what you have said is correct and I fear the same danger that you do”. The scout swelled with pride once more, but again it was subdued by the approaching danger. “We will head to the location of the sighting, and we will go right away”. The counsel started to all speak at once again, but the Chief simply continued talking and they fell silent. “Do not argue. I have spoken and we will leave at noon. Now go, and spread the news of the departure.”
The counsel started to leave each one going to complete their predetermined tasks. As the scout got up to leave the Chief bid him to come with a motion of his hand. The scout went over slightly surprised and weary of what will proceed, not only with what the Chief had to say, but with the tribe and what they would find out about the canoe. When the scout was seated beside the Chief he started to speak slowly and deliberately; “you will come with us and show us the way to the canoe”. The scout nodded his head in acknowledgment and the Chief continued speaking now faster and more desperately. “You feel the danger, do you not? Of course you do, but only you and I, no one else”. The Chief stopped there and feeling that no more was to be said the scout left for his tent, fear now swelling in his chest.
The sun was high in the sky when the scout had led the group of warriors to the pinnacle where he had spotted the ship coming into the inlet it looked over. The journey had been a hard and long one that lasted many days, but all had made it, even the elderly Chief. Now there was no doubt to anyone that the scout did not just spot an image in the water. They looked down into the bustling inlet and saw the canoe the scout spotted was larger than he could have imagined even in his wildest dreams. Not only that, but the land below the peak was occupied by a peoples that he had never seen; they had a light skin, odd colored hair and eyes, and were dressed in strange clothing that covered the entire body. Boxes and containers of never-before-seen goods also littered the shore. Going back and forth between the inlet and the large canoe were regular size canoes filled with goods and more of the strangely colored people. The scout was amazed beyond belief.
“We must meet go down, and meet them”, the Chief said gravely and solemnly. The scout looked at him in disbelief, still not completely comprehending all that he saw, but the Chief simply nodded and started down the slope through the woods. The scout and warriors had no choice but to follow their Chief. They soon came to the edge of the woods and the Chief went out to meet the white leader that had stepped forward. The warriors spread out behind ready to protect the Chief as the remaining white people did the same. The white leader, tall with long brown hair, blue eyes and a strange stick across his back, started the conversation, “we mean you no harm”, he said, but no one understood his strange language.

“Who are you, and what do you want with us here”, the Chief asked as he stood before the white man’s leader, but the white man did not understand what was said either. They stood there and stared at each other for a minute before both started talking at once.
“Do not be afraid, we mean no harm”.
“Why are you here?”
“We will not hurt you; we wish to settle this land with you, as one.”
“Where do you come from?”
“We are from across the water, far, far away.”
“Are you here to hurt us?”
However, neither of the two peoples understood each other, and both soon got frustrated. The white leader started to motion wildly with his hands as he spoke, and the Chief bent down to draw in the white sand.

Then, suddenly, shots were being fired and arrows were flying through the air. Warriors started falling and the white men watching the spectacle were taking cover and returning fire with their guns. One shot, another warrior went down. One bow unstrung and a white sailor fell. A shot whirled past the scout’s head, another just missed his foot as he started to scramble away from the carnage, but the Chief was not so lucky. The scout had seen one of the initial shots hit him and it was obvious that there was no more life in him. The scout took one last look at him and the rest of the ex-warriors in their red pools as he ran off into the woods.
“Hold fire,” shouted the Captain. We stopped firing and as the gun powder cleared from the air saw what was left of the Indian warriors, nothing. They were all dead. I put the butt of my gun to the ground and leaned heavily on it, so much for a peaceful start to the colony, I thought. “How many did we loss,” asked the Captain. I looked around at our casualties and saw Smith and Gregory on the ground, not moving, and Jonathan was fumbling with an arrow in his leg. “Looks like we lost two, and one’s wounded,” I responded to the Captain’s question. “Alright, clean this mess up,” the Captain said and turned back to the business of unloading the ship. No word of who started the fight, and no word of the incident after that.
Running, again. The scout was again running through the forest, again dodging, ducking, and jumping at top speed. The tears in his eyes blurred his vision making him unsure if he was heading in the correct direction, but he had to keep going, had to keep running. He again had news to tell his tribe, but this news was worse. It was not news of appending danger, but news of danger come and not soon to leave. On he ran.

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