Twisted Grass smiled to herself. Crow Dancer was picking berries again. A quick glance in his direction, then back to her task. She heard giggling from the other girls as he moved closer. Sensing his presence next to her, she reminded him that picking berries was for girls – maybe he would play house with the girls tomorrow?
Crow Dancer reminded her that he was fastest and strongest of the boys, he would pick berries if it pleased him and once she became his wife it would no longer please him to pick berries-so she should be happy he was helping.
Her turn again to do the reminding, Twisted Grass points out that her father Next To Mountain is a great warrior who has counted more coup than the night sky holds stars and he would expect many horses in exchange for his daughter’s hand. Many, many horses – how many would Crow Dancer bring with him when that day came?
Both children spread their arms wide and cried out This Many!
Throwing her handful of berries at his face, Twisted Grass ran off as the fastest of the boys gave chase.
She awoke with a familiar feeling of resignation. Next To Mountain needed the White Man medicine drink again. Escaping briefly from father’s shouting and mother’s crying, Twisted Grass carried a clay pot down to the creek. Crow Dancer stood outside his family’s lodge, tending a fire, eyes cast down. He did not look up as she passed.
On her way back with the water, she took a fleeting look at Crow Dancer’s family lodge. The fire had been extinguished. A group of young men played a hoop game nearby. She looked down as she passed them, feeling their gaze upon her. A brief whisper, then a burst of laughter.
Her father walks as Twisted Grass sits atop the pony. She knows this is intended as a kindness, him walking both ways. Of necessity she will ride on the return trip. Her grandmother’s words echo in her mind.
Hot, foul breath scorches her neck as matted hair scratches her cheek. A hand reaches roughly under her buckskin skirt. A second pair of hands joins the first. The wisdom of her grandmother stifles the revulsion. Twisted Grass whispers a few words to the Creator as she dreams herself into the real world.
She smiles to herself. Crow Dancer is picking berries again. A quick glance, then back to her task. She hears giggling from the other girls as he moves closer. Sensing his presence next to her, she reminds him that picking berries is for girls – maybe he will play house with the girls next?