“It is difficult for me to talk while riding. I have to see your mouth, because I’m deaf. “
“But my wife hears very well,” Shaman said, grinning, and the man grinned back and turned to Rachel and tapped his hat. They exchanged a few words, but mostly the three rode side by side in silence.
When they came to a pond, they stopped to let the horses drink and eat and to stretch their legs. Only now did they properly introduce themselves. The man shook hands with them and said his name was Charles P. Keyser.
“No, I have a farm eight miles from here. I was born in Potawatomi but raised by whites because my parents died of a fever. I hardly understand this Indian chatter either, apart from a few words in Kickapoo. I married a woman who was half Kickapoo, half French. “
He said he went to Tama every few years to spend a few days there. “Don’t really know why.” He shrugged and laughed. “Probably the red skin is drawn to the red skin.”
“O yes. We don’t want it to tear them apart, do we? ”Keyser replied and the two of them mounted and rode on.
They reached Tama in the morning. Long before they got to the huts standing in a large circle, brown-eyed children and barking dogs ran after them.
Soon after, Keyser raised his hand and they paused to dismount. “I’ll let the chief know we’re here,” Keyser said, and went to a nearby cabin. When he returned with a broad-shouldered, middle-aged Indian, a small group had already gathered around the horses.
The stocky man said something Shaman couldn’t read on his lips. It wasn’t English, but the man took Shaman’s hand when he held it out to him. “I’m Dr. Robert J. Cole from Holden’s Crossing, Illinois. And this is my wife, Rachel Cole. “
“Dr. Cole? ”A young man stepped out of the crowd and eyed Shaman. “No. You are too young. “
The man looked at him searchingly. “Are you the deaf boy? … Is that you, Shaman?”
Shaman was delighted when they shook hands, he still remembered how they played together as children. The stocky man said something.
“This is Medi-ke, Snapping Turtle, Chief of the City of Tama,” said Little Dog.