As Lily Mea took a tentative step towards the flap of her make shift shelter the old woman did nothing to stop her, she just smiled that crazy smile and followed behind Lily Mea. What Lily Mea saw as she stepped through the threshold in to the day brought her to a complete halt. Looking around in complete amazement Lily Mea could not believe her eyes. The camp and her small band of captors had grown. To Lily Mea it looked as if the whole world had set up camp in her front yard. Actually there were less then 75 men and women as well as children gathered around the lake and what had been Lily Mea's home for so many weeks. Looking back at the old lady with questions in her eyes, all Lily Mea got for an answer was that crazy smile and a pointing finger. Following the finger Lily Mea could see that Little Bonnie was being well cared for as a young mother nestled the sweet little baby to her breast. Sure that for now at least Little Bonnie was okay, Lily Mea began to walk around taking in the strange sites, and smells, and even stranger the language. While they all seemed to understand one another Lily Mea was sure more then one language was being spoken. It really didn't matter she didn't understand a single bit of it anyway. The smells coming from the cooking fires were enough to make a person dizzy and so very different than anything Lily Mea had smelled before. As Lily Mea slowly made her way through the new world in front of her she stumbled onto a group of young women giggling and pointing at her. Lily Mea self consciously raised a hand to her hair and looked down at the torn dirty rag of a dress she was wearing. " I must look a fright thought Lily Mea" she couldn't remember the last time she had combed her hair, or even looked at her reflection in the water for that matter.
Holding her head high Lily Mea made her way straight to the lake and walked neck deep into the clear blue and now cold water. Using sand from the bottom of the lake Lily Mea scrubbed her face, arms, and anywhere else the dress would let her get to. Shivering Lily Mea sat on the shore and let the sun dry her and her dress, she ran her fingers through all that beautiful yellow hair to smooth it out the best she could. As cold as she was Lily Mea couldn't help thinking how good it was to feel clean. Between Little Bonnie and her daily chores Lily Mea hadn't thought much about how she looked or smelled for that matter.Lily Mea couldn't help laugh a little as she thought " Thats why them savages kept their distance." Still musing about in her own thoughts Lily Mea was surprised when she noticed the young women sitting next to her in the sand. " Now where did you come from, how long you been sitting there? " Lily Mea didn't expect an answer she was just so startled because she never even heard the young woman approach. With a shy smile the young Indian maiden offered Lily Mea what looked like a pile of soft brown leather and on top of the pile was what looked like a brush fashioned out of wood and reeds or twigs. The young maiden picked up the brush and mimicked brushing her hair with it, handing the brush back to Lily Mea with a smile the maiden pantomimed that Lily Mea should use the brush on her own hair. Lily happily complied, after months of nothing but her fingers to pull the knots and tangles out of her hair even a make shift brush felt good. Lily Mea could feel her pride and joy begin to shine again with every stroke of the brush. Lily tried to thank the young woman but didn't know how, she didn't speak the language and didn't know what to call this young woman so she did the only thing she could think of. Pointing to herself, she said slowly and clearly L i l y M e a, smiling and continuing to point Lily Mea said her name again. The young woman nodded and pointed to her self saying A m i t o l a, smiling she repeated it. Giggling at the strangeness of the names on each others tongues the two young ladies became friends. Reaching out and touching the edge of Lily Mea's torn and ragged dress Amitola looked at her new friend in wonder. " I know it aint noting to look at now but once this was a fine dress, yes a real fine dress. Now its just a pile of rags. Well it will have to do for now cause I aint walking around in my unmentionables." For the first time since her capture Lily Mea felt tears rolling down her cheeks. She couldn't help but think of Joe when she talked about her unmentionables. A sadness settled over her and being clean wasn't going to make it better. Amitola sensing the sadness quietly slipped away leaving Lily Mea alone to heal her own pain. The sun had moved far to the west when Lily Mea finally lifted head and looked around again. Laying next to her in the sand was a dress made of white leather and the most intricate bead work Lily Mea had ever seen. " Now that is one very fine dress." Picking up the dress Lily Mea was happy for the most thoughtful and beautiful gift she had ever gotten. Her happiness grew ten fold when she saw that underneath the dress was a pair of soft leather slipper like shoes and another dress this one not as fancy but just as beautiful in brown leather and fringe all around it. Walking as quickly as she could Lily Mea headed back to her shelter. Once inside, the rag that once was so fancy and regal became nothing more then a memory. Donning the plainer of the 2 dresses and replacing her broken and hole filled shoes with the soft slippers, Lily Mea didn't even look back as she tossed the pile of rags upon the fire.
Lily Mea stepped out of her shelter into the setting sun, and a camp full of stunned people. Lily Mea's hair was something most had never seen before the color, the way it reflected light, even the slight waviness was something new and different to these people. When Lily Mea's hair was matted and dirty it was different and something to be stared at. Now all cleaned and brushed silky smooth and shinny, moving ever so slightly in the breeze as it reflects the setting sun Lily Mea's hair is stunning , Lily Mea is stunning standing tall and proud looking like a fairy tale Indian Princess with yellow hair. Embarrassed by all the attention Lily Mea moves away from her door and goes in search of Little Bonnie who she suddenly realizes she hasn't seen all day.
Finding Little Bonnie took a little time with so many camp fires and lodges. It was dark by the time Lily Mea found the baby. Little Bonnie had been well cared for and loved all day it was plain to see, there was a bed made of leather and filled with warm soft furs and what Lily Mea was sure were toys made from wood and corn stocks and leaves. Happily playing in a young woman's lap Little Bonnie laughed and clapped her hands as she smiled and blew little bubbles. Lily Mea was about to walk away and let Little Bonnie be when the baby looked up and saw Lily Mea. Making squealing noises of joy Little Bonnie reached out for Lily Mea begging to be hugged. Wrapping the baby tightly in her arms Lily Mea was amazed at how much she loved this little girl. While Lily Mea and Little Bonnie played the young woman disappeared only to reappear a few minutes later with all Lily Mea's belongings. Curious but not worried Lily Mea watched as the woman put Lily Mea's meager few things in the exact spot they had been stored only now they were in this lodging. That was just fine with Lily Mea she would be more then happy to move in with this young woman, this lodge was so much better than the one she had been staying in. When her captors made it clear Lily Mea would have to make her own housing she did the best she could,but her best wasn't that good and her shelter leaked when it rained and was cold at night not to mention so smokey when she lit a fire. Staying here in the water tight, warm and smoke free shelter was a blessing almost greater than a clean dress.
As the days slowly passed the weather getting cooler and the trees becoming a rainbow of color it was clear to Lily Mea that a big move was about to happen and she was to be included. Her captors were not often in the camp grounds anymore, they were off with the other men hunting, fishing, building canoes, as well as making tools and weapons, preparing for the move and a long hard winter. Lily Mea was not left to be idle, oh no those lazy days of summer were over and the women of the tribe made it clear Lily Mea would work right along with them. That was just fine with Lily Mea who was always taught " idle hands are the devils hands."
Through hand signals and pantomime Lily Mea managed to have conversations of sorts with the other women. She learned a lot of useful information in some of those conversations. She learned that she was correct the tribe or rather tribes were planning a big move very soon. The land they had been living on was all farmed out and needed to rest, making it necessary for the entire people to move to a new home and more fertile land. Someday the people may return to the old home but for now it would lay empty and rest.
There was much to do before the final leg of the journey began. All the meat and fish that the hunters brought in each day needed to be smoked and or salted to help keep it fresh long into the cold winter days. Lily Mea was fascinated to learn how to make a smoke house just for smoking the meat, and even more fascinated to learn how to smoke and preserve meat. Once the smoke houses are built the smoking almost takes care of itself and the older children can manage the fire and smoke. Freeing up the women to gather all the berries and nuts that are ready to harvest, as well as gathering the herbs and plants needed for all sorts of things. Leather needs tanning and softening to use for clothing, housing , blankets, and even tools. Each night Lily Mea was a sleep before her head hit the pile of furs she called a bed.
One day out with a group of women gathering flowers and herbs in the forest Lily Mea began to wonder if she were losing her mind. Lily Mea and the other ladies were picking leaves and digging up roots, but mostly they were sitting under the trees enjoying the shade and conversation. Sitting with her back against a tree Lily Mea was simply enjoying listening the soft sing song sound of the women voices as they chatted and giggled. Not really interested in what was being said and only half paying attention Lily Mea began looking around the forrest at all the beautiful tall trees gracefully dropping their colorful leaves onto the floor of ferns still so green even this far into the fall. It was then she was sure she saw something or someone move behind a tree trunk not to far off to the right of her.Sitting very still Lily Mea kept a careful watch on the tree trunk, doing her best not to be noticed. She hoped whatever it was it would move again giving her a chance to see better. If she was right and Lily Mea saw what she thought she saw, "well it just couldn't be could it?" So she sat as still as she knew how and waited, it wasn't a long wait. There was movement alright and it weren't no critter, not standing that tall. Lily Mea was sure it was a person behind that tree, tensing with fear Lily Mea was just about to shout a warning when the figure moved just slightly from behind the tree, just enough for Lily Mea to see. Lily Mea said only one word as she fainted to the forrest floor.