Chapter 22: The Bow String
Wind Witch by Sheila L. Chingwa
The old crone, Shining Sun, had traveled to her family for Christmas and returned after the new year began. The children woke to see the smoke lofting into the air from her chimney. After nearly three weeks with no lessons, the children were stir crazy so they were eager to go back to school.
As the children approached, the cabin, a snowball flew through the air and hit Peter square in the chest. The old crone laughed as she tucked herself behind a tree. Her laughter rang through the forest as she threw another ball of snow in their direction.
Sarah held tight to her package of yeti hair as she hid behind an woodpecker riddled tree trunk. She watched as the three of them play and laughed along with them. She could see the old lady's chest heaving with exhaustion.
"Okay, you three, come on in. Time to get busy. A lot has happened since I have been gone. Come, come and tell me your tales." she gestured as she walked to her cabin.
In the corner of the cabin, there was a work station where the boys were working on the net. The wandered over to the benches and prepared to work. The two boys snuggled down unto their seats and began to check their work.
"Oh come boys, I must hear your tales. Seeing that Sarah is back, you must have plenty to share." said the old lady as she laid her leather pelt on the ground.
The boys got up from their stools and walked to the circle and laid their own leather pelts on the ground. Sarah laid the package on the floor and followed the boy's example. The old crone pulled out her smudging tools and lit the sage. She washed her self in the smoke and passed the pan to the next person. Chavo was first then Peter and lastly, Sarah cleansed herself. Together, they sat silently for a moment and took in the moment of togetherness.
"Well now, my young ones, let's join hands. Peter, you know what to do." Shinning Sun as she smiled at the boy.
Peter leaned in on the smudging bowl and soon, the smoke rose. The old crone chuckled as a younger her appeared in the smoke. She and Peter's dad were sitting near each other chatting about escaping from the school. In the back ground, an old nun over heard them and threw them into the darkroom in the basement of the school.
"You were or are my dad's cousin?" wrote Peter as he looked at the sobbing children sitting alone in their prison.
The old crone gave a sad smile, "Yes my boy, we were very close. Once we left the school, we went our own ways. This is one of my greatest regrets."
"Is that why you made the belt for me?" wrote Peter.
"This is a wampum belt. One day, you will find your voice again and you will tell the tale of your friendship. Until the ancestors free your voice, you must listen, learn and watch the events so your tale will be true." Said the old lady.
The images shifted and Sarah's tale began. They watched the chain of events unfold. They watched as the golden image opened upon the arrow's touch. She watched as Sarah retrieved the arrow and quiver. The old lady's eyes fixed onto Sarah assessing the girl before her. She watched the boys assist Markus as the bow was being made. She watched as dragonfly etched symbols of the ancient ones onto the wood. She watched as the wolves ran over the frozen snow with the yeti following. She smiled as she watched the wolves play in the clearing. She watched as each child opened their gifts the next morning and smiled at all the happiness of the day. She stopped and took a deep breath when she saw the yeti's gift of fur and she turned and looked at the girl.
Sarah lifted her package and opened it and laid its contents on the floor in front of her. The old woman reached over and grabbed a corner of the paper and slid it to her. She peered down at the white fur in a moment of disbelief.
"Ralph told me that you could help me to build a drawstring for my bow with this." Sarah reached down and touched the white stands.
The old one stood and walked to the window. "My child, this gift of his fur is an honor that no one has ever known. With that hair, no one will ever be able to cut the bowstring, nor will it fray, but it is a binding contract between the two of you. Once we attach them together with knot magic, they will be a lifetime vow of protection. I have never known an agreement like this between man and the yeti." She held her hand over her heart. "I have never known of such a gift."
The children looked at the hair on the paper with new appreciation. The white strains seemed to shimmer in the sunlight coming through the window. Sarah looked over the fur and Ralph's smile came into her view. The old crone walked over to Sarah and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Lets begin Child," she took a deep breath, "Lets begin." said the old crone.
The old lady instructed the children to sort the pieces of hair by length. Long, short, and middle lengths were divided out into piles on the table. She sent the boys to retrieve the bow so proper length could be measured for no mistakes could occur. When the boys returned, she held the bow in her old wrinkled finger. Her eyes checked the symbols on the arms of the bow and shook her head.
"The symbols of the old ones, child, you are well protected." she said as she ran her finger over each rune.
The old crone measured the proper length of the string that would be needed. She grabbed a long strain of fur and grabbed a second piece of hair and twisted the two strands together. She folded the ends over each other and tied the two ends together, connecting them together into one strand. She ran the strand of knotted fur through her fingers and they joined into one single seamless length. No knot could bee seen.
"While you tie, you say the following incantation: 'Two become one, bound together forever.'", said the old crone. "Then you slide your fingers over the knot. They should meld together if you do it right."
During that afternoon, the children worked to learn to join the threads together. Most of the time, the children's knot wouldn't disappear. The old crone would smile and cox them to try the incantation again.
"While you are saying the incantation, you must believe in your skill. You are all made of earth, so you all have this skill." She said as she worked beside them.
By the evening, they had many strands long enough for the bow. She showed the children how to combine the stands together to make a thicker strand. The children watched and learned how to twine the strands together to make a thicker rope. She showed the children how to twist the smaller ropes together and fasten the looped ends together and bound them securely by wrapping the length of of the bowstring one strand at a time. With a final incantation being said, the four of them stood back looking at the bowstring as it glistened in the candle light.
A loud knock pounded on the door. The old crone screamed out of fright as the knock sounded. She rose from her chair and let Markus through the door.
"Are you four about done? Mary has been waiting for the kids for hours." He smiled at the old crone.
"I believe we are," she said to him. "Please, come and look at what we have learned today."
Shining Sun led Markus to the table where the kids stood smiling. Markus looked and saw the opal like rope sitting on the table. The kids step aside and let him view their work. Marcus ran his finger along its length and admired their work.
"That, Shining Sun, is a fine piece of work." he said. "So smooth and not one knot can be seen." He looked up and smiled at the children. "Nice work indeed. Now, let's not keep Mary waiting any longer."
Once they cleaned up their work bench, pulled on their jackets, they bid Shining Sun good bye. Sarah carried the long bow in one hand and the bow string in the other as they head for the cabin. The children ended their long day, but a good day, by telling Mary and Verna of their day over a hot bowl of stew.
About the author
Welcome to my world.
Welcome to my thoughts.
I am proud to be a Native American Elder born and raised in Northern Michigan. Thanks to my hard work I have a B.A. in Education and a Masters in Administration and Supervision in Education.