Yuta’s choice of displaying Turtle Island to a Silver Hat had begun before he had a chance to bring it before the Council. He wanted to show this man-child the Ways and send him back to his own place across the water with a message, a moral, and a warning. The Central Land was full of potent, resilient Peoples with close relationships to the Spirits of the animals, rocks, leaves. They would walk the Great Lakes unto the muddy giant river which bounded the flat lands.
Over two days, Deramo gradually gained strength and a few words of Yuta’s language. He followed him as a child, mimicking his movements. Yuta was accustomed to such shadowing from his children but they seemed to have learned faster, kept up better, and identified toxic plants sooner. The White One didn’t even respond to his own name.
“Use caution! That is poison oak, not firewood oak!” Yuta heard his voice nearing a shout. Perhaps, he should switch to shorter phrases and more general words, as if this was a new child. It would not do at all to be discovered.
Deramo leapt backwards at the sound of Yuta’s voice echoing across the rock rimmed bay. He couldn’t see what he had done wrong now. He always seemed to be stepping too close to one tiny plant or another. He realized he had not formulated a plan for communication with any natives. The Court astrologers and cartographers had agreed with Her Royal Majesty the Queen, the big center island was lined with gold but held no humans.
Yuta sat on the soft carpet grass. “Reamo, look, bad plant. Sickness.” He was moving his hands very slowly. Gently, he took Deramo’s hands and repeated the motion.
Deramo stared at him, asking, “Are you saying this plant is poison and causes pain?”
Yuta nodded agreement. He knew many foreign words of the Far Away Land. “Yah, bad. Sick.” He held his own stomach.
Now on to wild strawberries. “Good. Eat.” Yuta felt ridiculous. This was a woman’s task, usually the village Old Mothers.
Deramo warily nibbled a strawberry, “Delicious! Excellent!”
Yuta repeated “Yah. Bird berry good food.” He used signals with words. Deramo reached for a second helping. Yuta stopped his grasp gently, showing that he wished to hear the words repeated.
As they strolled, Yuta concentrated on his prayers, begging the Spirits to help him teach this new child. Deramo warmed to the rhythm of the chants and how they fit into the day. But he was acutely aware of the condition of his clothing and the pains from sharp rocks on his tender feet. He was embarrassed but lacked any capacity to discuss it.
Yuta easily read the nature of the problems. He had examined the lad’s feet as he lay in the canoe. They looked like the feet of an infant. He had mistakenly thought the boy’s pelt was sufficient for warmth and sun protection. He decided to just keep talking, inserting White Face words as he worked.
“This is the cleansing ritual before I hunt.” Taking Deramo’s hands, he guided the motions, drew pictures, pointed to their feet, repeated the words in Micmac dialect, and what he hoped was Deramo’s white language.
He swept fragrant lemon grass along their limbs to hide human scent and purify the mind. “This is sweet sour grass. The small deer cannot detect us now.” He hoped with intensity only the rocks were watching him. He sang:
Spirit of the small deer.
One of your brothers
Is in need.
I give your spirit to the wind
Help us that we might
One day give back to you.
He sighed a little. That was the chant of a child of five summers. He hoped the Spirit was not offended and wished he could take back his rash actions. Deramo moved to the atonal tune. It seemed to lack a melody but he was learning some syllables. He could hum along and utter a few words by the third repetition.
By nightfall, Deramo was wearing a simple skin robe with matching insulated foot coverings and eating fresh roasted meat. He felt the power of the deer muscles entering his weak body and he attempted the universal signs and local tongue. He was certain he sounded like a child but Yuta was making attempts to teach him, he wanted to try.
“Hunt. Meat. Feet. No pain. Strong.”
Yuta made the necessary corrections. Then he, in turn, attempted the simple words in the tongue of Silver Hats. He knew these words well. Shock registered along Deramo’s face. Who was this Person? How was it that he was now conversing in two languages with the Man who tried to kill him? The realization of his personal needs worried Deramo, too. Was this Native a mind reader? How could he tell that clothing and fresh meat were needed?
Although he was accustomed to this mispronunciation of his name, it bothered him each time. He was feeling braver now since his rescue had been a week or two ago, enough to make a slight correction to his benefactor. He bowed his eyes in honor. Tapped his chest.
Yuta’s face filled with hot blood. This was no ship creature or child. He had offended the lineage of a man by not saying the family name correctly. He lowered his eyes in shame and then anger, why did not the Other tell him immediately? He reminded himself, this was a mere youth in a strange and perhaps frightening land.
The letters were difficult to put together but he practiced many times, checking the white man’s face for clarification.
“derro? ddrammo? de rrrramo?”
Both men were elated. They had corrected a misunderstanding between them without conflict. They had an argument and simply agreed to further their educations. Yuta held both his hands along Deramo’s arms.
“This is how we show peace and cooperation among the Nations.”
“Friendship.” De Ramo agreed. And he smiled his best European toothy grin.