Authors: Gloria Whelan
Libby’s adventures continue in this second book of the
Next Spring an Oriole
One of the soldiers shot his rifle into the air. Some of the Indians ran toward the woods, but the soldiers rode after them to bring them back. They were like the shepherd dogs in Virginia that ran barking and snarling at the sheep to herd them together.
I grabbed Fawn’s hand. “What’s happening?” I whispered, too frightened to speak aloud.
“It is what your father warned us of. They have come to take us away.”
Text copyright © 1993 by Gloria Whelan. Illustrations copyright © 1993 by Leslie Bowman. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published as a Borzoi Book by Alfred A. Knopf in 1993.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Night of the full moon / by Gloria Whelan; illustrated by Leslie Bowman.
“A Stepping Stone book.”
: A young girl living on the Michigan frontier in 1840 is inadvertently caught up in the forced evacuation of a group of Potawatomi Indians from their tribal lands.
1. Potawatomi Indians—Juvenile fiction. [1. Potawatomi Indians—Fiction.
2. Indians of North America—Fiction. 3. Frontier and pioneer life—Michigan—Fiction. 4. Michigan—Fiction.] I. Bowman, Leslie. ill. II. Title.
[PZ7.W5718Ni 1996] [Fic]—dc20 95-5386
and colophon are registered trademarks and
A STEPPING STONE BOOK
and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.
To Patricia Fagg
of 1840 was a snowy tunnel. We entered it in November and couldn’t find our way out until April. Then spring surprised us. Almost overnight the white field by our cabin turned back into a pond. When Mama saw the last of the ice melt, she said to me, “Libby, it’s like something heavy lifting from my heart.”
Black-and-white bufflehead ducks sifted down onto our pond. The blue heron was back stalking frogs. One morning we heard the oriole sing and saw it flash through the trees. Papa unraveled rope and hung the strands over branches. The oriole carried off the strands in its beak to weave into a nest that hung like a little bag at the top of an oak.
By June all the rows had pushed out green in our vegetable garden. I was kneeling pulling out weeds when Fawn appeared, like she always did—as softly and suddenly as a butterfly lighting on a flower. Her name was really Taw-cum-e-go-qua, but that was hard to say. Fawn was the name my papa made up for her. “She’s like a young deer,” he said. “Graceful, with those long legs and big eyes. Wary, too. I’m always afraid of startling her into skittering away.”
Each fall Fawn and her family, along with the other Potawatomi Indians in their camp, went north to their winter trapping grounds. They didn’t call themselves Potawatomi. They called themselves
which means “the People.”
Fawn was splendid in a red and blue calico dress embroidered with red and blue
beads. There was beading, too, on her deerskin moccasins. Her dark hair was braided with a red ribbon. “You have a new dress,” I said. “And a ribbon.” I’m afraid I was a little envious, for my own pinafore seemed dull, and I had no ribbons. Papa says beauty has nothing to do with fancy adornments, but I would have given anything to look like Fawn.
“The hunting was good this winter,” Fawn said. “Each day in the forest the spirits of the animals called to my father. They told him where to put his snares and traps. He brought back many skins. At the store where he sold them he bought calico for me and my mother. I have another ribbon. I’ll give it to you.”
The Indians were always giving things away. When Papa was not able to find enough business as a surveyor to provide us with food for the winter, Fawn’s papa brought us corn and wild honey and smoked fish. “Where did you make your winter camp?” I asked.
“We had to travel many nights’ journey
from here to find the mink and the marten and the fisher.”
It was true we had fewer animals, for as more and more settlers arrived, the woods where the animals once lived were turned into farms. Some settlers came as we did by covered wagon. Some came by boat through the new Erie Canal. A steamer called the
came all the way from Buffalo. It chugged down the Saginaw River, sending the ducks and geese flying. Soon the train would come to Saginaw. Everyone was buying up property. Now Papa had lots of land to survey.
“Did all the Indian families come back?” I asked Fawn. We had heard tales of smallpox in the north. The winter before it had spread like wildfire. Hundreds of Indians had died. Smallpox was a bad sickness for everyone, but because it was a white man’s sickness it was much more serious for the Indians. So many Indians died of the disease they couldn’t be buried properly and the wolves got at the graves.
“Two families from our clan did not return.”
For a long time Fawn was silent. When she spoke again it was in a voice so soft I could hardly hear her. “In the month of the longest nights my little brother, Namah, became sick. Sores covered his face and his body. He grew hot as though a fire burned inside him. He spoke in dreams. On the fifth day he died.”
I remembered how Namah loved to trail after his father, Sanatuwa, and how his father had made him a small bow and arrows. I felt terrible.
The sadness stayed on Fawn’s face. It only went away when she told me, “My mother has had a baby. It is a boy. He has a little red mark on the back of his neck just like my brother Namah had. Papa says Namah’s soul has returned to us from
the spirit land.”
“We are going to have a baby, too,” I told her. “Mama says it probably will be born in September. Papa says he’ll make me a little room all for myself in the loft of our cabin so the baby’s crying won’t keep me awake at night.”
Just then Mama came out to welcome Fawn. “How pretty you are,” she said to her. “You look like a princess. I’m going to get my sketchbook and draw your picture.” I hoped Fawn would let me try on her clothes someday. Then maybe Mama would draw a picture of me looking like a princess, too.
Fawn worked in the cornfields or helped her mother sew and weave baskets. But whenever she could, she slipped away from the Indian camp to visit me. We went swimming in our pond, where the little minnows nibbled at our toes. We picked wild strawberries in June and wild raspberries in July. When Mama taught me my lessons, she taught Fawn too. Once Fawn brought a little deerskin pouch of colored beads and showed us how to embroider with them.
Fawn often came to see me, but I wasn’t
allowed to visit her. The Indian camp was five miles away. Papa said it was too far for me to go by myself. It wasn’t until the end of July, when two strangers knocked on our door, that I finally got to visit the camp.
The strangers said they were agents from the government. Papa invited them into our cabin. Mama gave them a drink of rhubarb juice. In the woods you were always hospitable to visitors. When there aren’t many houses, you have to stretch friendship hard to make it go around.
One agent had hay-colored hair and a hat that was too big for him. He was shy about taking the rhubarb juice. He kept looking around to see if we were watching him drink it, which made us watch. The other agent had black eyes and black whiskers and didn’t seem all that friendly. He drank his mug down all in one gulp. “Are there many Potawatomi Indians around here?” he wanted to know.
“Why do you ask?” Papa said.
“A lot of people think the Indians would
be better off away from the white men’s settlements. There’s wickedness goes on in towns that isn’t good for the Indians to see. Better to have them far from all that. There’s talk of sending them west across the Mississippi. They can have their own territory there. Someday there may even be an Indian state.”
Papa said, “If you’re talking of sending them someplace where men are always good and never sinful, I’m afraid you will have to wait for Heaven. When they talk of sending the Indians away, I think it is not the Indians’ welfare that people have in mind. It is the taking of the Indians’ land.”
“What if the Indians don’t wish to leave?” Mama asked. Her voice was angry.