He stared at the White One. Training fixed in his mind reminded him of his duty. But pointless death was not the way of any Tribe. Torn between reaction and responsibility, Yuta paddled aimlessly in the rising waves.
Drinking heavily from his water skin, his heart sank when he traced his fingers across the symbols Bright Eyes had placed on it. Sensing water, eyelids fluttered on the White Face and he reached out, begging for a sip. Yuta dripped water from his sacred otter bag along the lips of the man-child.
Over time, he stopped rowing to slip droplets into the dry mouth. The sick man-child cried out in delirium. Some words Yuta knew, ones he had once memorized and added to his list of chants. He chanted and prayed into the icy salt spray with tears and sorrow. He had just committed the most serious dishonor, saving the life of a Silver Hat.
He regretted his rash and foolish choice. Now, he was a man who walked with Spirits; he could not return to his village. His Tribe would assume he was lost in performance of his heroic duty, perhaps even with a chant added to his name. Status given to Burning Ember, his oldest son.
He paddled the canoe toward Great Bay where fewer people lived. Even though Micmac were not always on good terms with Inuit, the remote Bay was safest.
Every few moments, he would supplement the skeletal youth with ground wet wild rice and herb mixture from his own food bag. For a full sun and moon, Yuta ate pemmican and paddled while the man-child slept in the embrace of a birch bark canoe.
Finally reaching the far north shore of the Land where only barking seals and numberless white birds lived, Yuta laid the White Face onto a bed of pine. In a smokeless pit fire, he cooked a tern he caught in a snare along with cod he had grabbed from still waters.
He mixed a thin broth tonic for the child, feeding him a single drop at a time. The choice was for the Spirits now. Was this one of the strong from Earth Mother or a weak one she would call unto her?