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weasel bear

The Weasel Is Good Medicine

(Lakota Tribe, Montana Territory, 1876)

Initially deflated, Brenzel felt better when Wichapi explained at length how the weasel was good medicine, how it symbolized being reborn because it changes colors with the seasons. “Also,” she said, “the weasel is a good fighter. I saw one bring down a rabbit five times it’s size, even though it was much smaller.”

Gradually, Bren understood that her new tribal name was indeed a great honor, one chosen with wisdom and insight into her nature by Running Bear. As a Seraph Hunter, the times and places change, but like the weasel, she adapts to them. Still, after all Wichapi’s explanation, Bren said, “Wind Dancer still sounds better.”

For the next week, everyone she met greeted her as Weasel Bear until she grew to like it. Feeling fully accepted by the Lakota, Bren marveled at how being a part of a tribe gave her such a sense of who she was. Being English never gave her the feeling of security or wholeness that being adopted by the Lakota did. Whether or not she was the White Buffalo-Calf Woman, Bren couldn’t say for sure, but she would always feel one with Wichapi and the Lakota people.

Autumn leaves

The hot days of summer gave way to autumn as leaves turned brilliant yellow and red. Bren enjoyed the crisp mornings that melted away into lovely afternoons of gentle, warm breezes. In the sky, flocks of geese, flying in V formations, headed southward. Like javelins piercing the turquoise sky, they move relentlessly, honking all the way.

Bren also began to notice some things about Wichapi which troubled her. Unable to put her finger on it completely, her Indian friend seemed deeply unsettled of late. Since she recovered, Chapi seemed increasingly impatient and volatile, flying into rages at the smallest things. The murderous rampage against the fly was just the latest example. Something seemed too tightly wound in her, to the point of breaking, and Bren could sense that her spiritual sister was deeply disturbed.

She may be dangerous

Indeed, though Bren did not want to admit it, she knew that Wichapi had something to do with the annihilation of the Custer and his men. Though Brenzel understood it was self-defense, still the Seraph Hunter balked at the thought of such brutality. Why not simply call a large herd of buffalo to block the white riders’ advance? Many possible scenarios drifted in and out of her thoughts, all dragging her to one inevitable conclusion: Wichapi may be as dangerous as the old woman warned.

On the other hand, since the naming ceremony, she and Wichapi felt even closer. Often finishing each others’ sentences, they found that their thoughts melded together. People around them, seeing their oneness of heart and soul, gave them the nickname, “The Twins” as a tongue in cheek nod to their closeness.

Can you control all animals?

One day, as Bren combed Wichapi’s hair, she asked, “Chapi, can you control all animals?”

“No,” she said.

“So which ones obey you?”

Poking the fire into life in the middle of their tent, Chapi said, “I can’t make insects do things, or fish. Mainly just animals that are more like us, those that can feel like we do.”

“That’s amazing.” Bren commented as she straightened Chapi’s long lustrous hair. “What about people? Can you make people do things, too?”

Suddenly, the atmosphere in their teepee turned dark and tense as Wichapi felt threatened. Eyes narrowing, she accused, “You think I killed all those soldiers don’t you?”

“No, Chapi, I…I don’t think you meant to.”

Looking at Bren, Chapi said grimly, “I don’t know exactly what I did, but if I did, I’m not sorry for it. They attacked our tribe, killed our braves, wanted to capture our women and children. They seek to drive us off our land, they are our enemy. We did not make war with them, they made war with us. ”

“Yes, I understand,” Bren, replied, admitting to herself that her friend had a point.

What do you see?

“Bren, look at me, what do you see?” Chapi demanded.

Taken aback a little by her sternness, Bren answered, “A friend, one that I love with all my heart. You are my sister.”

Softening a little, Chapi said, “Beyond that, beyond our relationship, what do you see?”

Bren thought for a moment, then said, “A powerful woman, with supernatural gifts who can control, at the very least, animals.”

Wichapi, taking Bren’s hands in hers said, “You, my friend, must understand that we are not like other people. We are something much more.”

Bren, feeling uncomfortable with the direction of their conversation asked, “What are you getting at?”

Pausing for a moment, as if gathering her thoughts, Chapi continued, “It is like that annoying fly the other day. It bothered me and you, so I killed it. I thought nothing of it because it was only a fly. Had it not bothered me, I would not have done anything.”

People are not flies!

“Chapi!” Bren said horrified, “People are not flies! Everyone has great worth before Wakan Tanka. I know from personal experience, I cannot judge others even though I think I’m right. I almost killed a man who I thought was evil, who turned out to be the opposite.”

Frowning a bit, Chapi replied, “My lovely, sweet sister, you are naive. I did not judge the fly, it was just a fly, and it was bothering me. Compared to us, Brenzel, those soldiers are just flies. They bothered me and my family so I killed them, and I’m not sorry.”

Seeing Bren’s distress, Chapi leaned forward, hugged her, saying, “Please don’t worry about me, sister, I am fine. I know you love me and I love you, that will never, ever change between us. You come from a far place and our ways are still strange to you. Someday you will see the wisdom of my words. Until then, know that I will always protect you, no matter what the cost.”

I will love you forever, too

Bren, holding Chapi, feeling the warmth of her words and emotions, also pledged, “I will always love and protect you at any cost, too, my friend. I love you, Chapi,” Bren said almost in tears.

I love you forever, too, Brenzel,” Chapi said as they wept together.

The next day, early in the morning, Chapi told Brenzel that she must attend a relative’s burial. Watching her leave, Bren noted that this was the first time they’d been separated since she arrived, many moons ago. Though Bren understood the necessity, still a twinge of anxiety panged her heart.

Unexpected company

In the evening, as the sun neared the tops of the adjacent mountains, for the first time, Bren walked alone along the riverbank. Chaska had invited her to a dance that evening, but Bren declined because she felt like being alone with her thoughts. Truth was, she liked going to dances with Chapi’s brother, and had done so many times, for in such a big village there was always a dance if you wanted to go. This evening, though, she just felt like being alone.

An eagle screeched in the sky above, causing Bren to look upward when, to her left, a familiar, yet out of place voice said, “You look nice this evening.”

Jumping sideways, Bren almost tripped and fell into the shallows of the river. Regaining her balance, she said, “Traveler, stop doing that! You can’t just sneak up on me like that!”

Smiling, he said, “Sorry, I just liked watching you walk.”

“Humph!” Bren grunted, shaking the water out of her moccasin. Looking at the well-dressed young man sitting on a large rock, she noted that he never seemed out of order. Always dressed well, clean, trimmed beard, and smiling.

Looking her over, he said, “By the look of things, I see you’ve taken to Lakota life very well.”

Bren, recovering her demeanor somewhat, said curtsying, “Do you like it? I made it myself.”

“Yes, it’s very authentic. ”

Have a seat, tell me about it

Motioning to an adjacent rock, Traveler asked her how her time with the Lakotas was going. Bren surprised herself as a torrent of stories flowed from her to the young man as he smiled and asked minor questions through her narrative. It felt so good to speak in English again, she thought.

As the sun began to set, Traveler asked, “Tell me more about Wichapi, please?”

Bren, looking at him quizzically, asked, “How much do you already know?”

“A bit, but I would like to hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.”

Mock frowning, Bren chided, “You really know how to flatter a girl, don’t you? Well, she is amazing, and she can do things,” the young hunter began.

“What type of things?” Traveler asked.

Bren, sensing he already knew the answers to his question, humored him by saying, “Well, she can control animals. I once saw her call a whole herd of buffalo.”

“Interesting,” Traveler said as he cocked his head slightly.

What about Chapi?

“How do you feel about her personally?” he quizzed.

Feeling a bit protective, for no good reason, Bren asked, “Why do you want to know?”

“I’m just curious. I don’t mean to pry, but it is kind of important. If it’s too personal, it can wait.”

Sensing genuine concern in his voice, Bren declared, “I love her and I’m not ashamed to say it. I can’t explain why or how, I just know we are connected, and I never want to leave her.”

“Connected?” Traveler repeated.

Yes, connected,” Bren said confidently.

Smiling and looking at his pocket watch, Traveler summed up, “I can see everything is well in hand here. Good job, by the way.”

Thanks, Joshua

“Thank you, Joshua”, Bren said appreciatively. “And thank you for saving me out of prison. I never had a chance to say that before. ”

“Don’t mention it, it was meant to be, I am sure of it. Besides, Doc says you are one of the best Hunters she’s ever seen.”

“Really?” Bren asked, blushing a bit.

“Yes, her very words.”

“How is she, is she well?”

“Not bad at all,” the Traveler replied. “I hear she is at The Library at present. Something to do with an old book, I think.”

Sensing Traveler was about to leave, Brenzel quickly offered, “I have a new name, you know.”

“Oh? A new name, that is wonderful! What is it?” the young man inquired, genuinely interested.

Suddenly thinking twice about her admission, Brenzel said, “It is a Lakota name: Mato Hitankasan.”

“That sounds majestic, what does it mean?”

Bren hesitated, then said, “I will tell you, but have to promise not to laugh.”

Raising his eyebrows slightly and smiling he said, “Really?”

“No, Traveler, I’m serious, you must promise not to laugh or I won’t tell you.”

“Okay. I know that when a person receives a new name it is a big deal, so I will try my best not to laugh, I promise.”

My name is Weasel Bear

“Okay. My Lakota name means ‘Weasel Bear’.”

Traveler’s face went completely expressionless as Bren waited for him to say something. Then his eyes brightened as a faint smile crept to his lips.

“NO….Noo you don’t!” Bren warned.

Then the young man burst out laughing as he put his hand to cover his mouth.

“You promised!” Bren said furiously.

“I’m sorry! I’m trying, I really am! Weasel…Bear…is a lovely name!” he managed to eek out as he burst out laughing again. Then, raising his hand, said, “I am sorry Bren,” he smirked, “Weasel…Bear is totally you.”

Bren, anger fading, began to giggle too, then burst out laughing herself, saying, “Yes, it is just awful isn’t it? I know, I know!…” and they both laughed together until their sides hurt.