When the fire died down and the dancing ended, Yellow Moon returned to her mother’s lodge with her family for the night. She and Two Doves lagged behind, still chatting about Thunder Eyes and the impression he’d made. Her mother looked from the full moon to her daughter. “Too bad the celebration lasted so late. This would be a perfect night for a young man to come courting.” She chuckled.
“Will I see Thunder Eyes tomorrow?”
“He’ll probably spend the day with others who plan to dance. Although he needs a wife, he made this trip for another purpose as well.” She gazed at the sky again. “Isn’t the June Berry moon beautiful?” Her ate sighed. “Makes me want to be young again.”
“Well, I’m young, and the moon is obviously of no use to me.” Yellow Moon’s hopes of spending time with Thunder Eyes unraveled. The yellow circle in the sky only had meaning if she stood beneath it with her newly intended. She pulled her mouth into a pout. “What will we do tomorrow?”
Two Doves shrugged. “Most likely spend our time as we did today, meeting others, learning new things, and sharing what we know. Oh...how could I forget?” She clapped her hands and smiled, her teeth glistening in the moonlight. “Tomorrow is the day the Shaman announces who will assist with the ceremony and who will lead it. You know what that means, don’t you?”
“Not really. You have never before suggested me to be part of the ceremony, and I did not come last year. Remember, according to you, I was wasting my time at the white man’s school?”
“Waste is a fitting word, but you are here this year and for that, I’m happy. Tomorrow we will learn whether or not your name will be called as one to search for the sacred cottonwood. Only the purest of women are allowed to participate, so you’ll surely be among those chosen.”
From her mother’s emotional display, being among those named must be an honor for the parents, but Yellow Moon didn’t feel the least exited...especially when she recalled the speech to the Shaman about her virtue and character.
Embarrassment burned her cheeks. She wasn’t in the least worthy to be among those chosen. “That’s what I get for keeping secrets from Ate and Ina. ”Grumbling, she ducked inside the tepee.
Guilt gnawed at her, but she dare not say a word.. Her father would most likely deny Thunder Eyes courting rights, and that caused a pain in her heart.
The family settled down quickly on their pallets. Yellow Moon slipped between the comfort of shaggy buffalo robes and curled on her side. Although tired, images of her handsome suitor played over and over in her mind. Thoughts of courting, how she would react to the attention, and most of all, traveling to live among virtual strangers kept her head spinning while she peered at the small crackling fire her father had built before settling into bed.
Her eyes blurred from staring at the flames and she looked away. A coyote’s yowl pierced the night—a chilling sound, too close for comfort. At the rustling noise of her sister bolting upright, Yellow Moon edged up on her elbow and recognized wide-eyed fear on Red Feather’s face.
“Did you hear that?” The young girl’s creased brow made her appear older than her eleven summers.
A second howl answered the first before Yellow Moon could respond. Goosebumps peppered her flesh despite being warm, but she swallowed hard and hid her fear. “Don’t be afraid, my sister.” She whispered in a calm tone not wishing to wake the others, then glanced up at moonlight filtering through the smoke hole. “We’re safe inside. Calm yourself and go back to sleep. Sunrise is still hours away.”
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