First chapter of a children's book
“Are you in pain my friend?” Asked Wolf Cub, looking at Johnny as Johnny rubbed the seat of his pants trying to rub the pain away.
“Naw.” Johnny lied; his head turned away, not wanting his friend to see the tears welling in his eyes. “ Paw’s whupped me a whole lot harder’n this afore.” Wolf Cub looked at his friend as he sniffled and wondered why Johnny’s father beat his son. This was new to him; as in his tribe no parent beat upon their child.
They lay on a small hill overlooking Johnny’s farm. From where they lay, they could see the town and the curving narrow dirt road that disappeared behind a small clump of scrub Oaks before crossing the small wooden covered bridge. It was summer, Johnny and Wolf Cub would meet on the hill every day after chores were done to play and talk. Wolf cub liked Johnny and liked Johnny’s sister Sarah even more. He had never seen hair so golden that it looked like the color of the plains grass, and eyes like limpid pools of clear water. He was in his twelfth summer, almost a brave, and soon he would join the hunt for food. Sarah, he knew, would make a fine squaw. He hoped he could be her brave.
“Why.” Wolf Cub asked. “Does your father beat you? Do they not have a Whipper Man?” He rolled over watching the wagon loaded with harvest, as it rolled past below them headed towards the small town. Beyond the wagon, he could see Sarah and his sister, Running Deer, running through the plowed fields towards the hill where Johnny and he lay; his heart pounding as he stood, waving and smiling as the girls waved back.
“Whipper Man, what’s that?” Johnny looked at Wolf Cub. He too stood, watching the girls climb the hill.
“The Whipper Man travels from village to village and beats the children when we have not performed as we should, or we have disrespected our elders.” Wolf Cub had never seen the Whipper Man, nor had any of the other children of the tribe, but had heard stories told around the campfires of how the Whipper Man would magically appear when children needed to be punished. The thought of the Whipper Man scared the children of the tribe and they dutifully completed their chores, careful to respect the elders of the tribe.
“Don’t your Paw whup ya?” Johnny asked. “I don’t think m’paw would let anyone take a belt to me a’tall, no sirree!!!” He rubbed the seat of his pants, remembering what he got for not doing his chores. “Boy’s gotta do man’s work in this country, son, this’ll pain me too. I don’t like givin’ same as you don’t like gettin’.” Johnny rubbed his bottom again, remembering what paw had told him this morning. Seems like it might be a good idea to have a Whipping man of our own, seen’s that it’d be best for paw not to feel so bad for whuppin’ him. An idea came to him.
“Ya think we could see this here Whipper Man?” Johnny asked turning to Wolf Cub.
“I have never seen him; though I have heard many tales told of his coming.” Wolf Cub turned to his friend and smiled. “I know, we can asked my grandfather, Yellow Shirt, he is Shaman of our tribe, he will know.”
Johnny stood and walked to his horse. “Com’on then, let’s get a goin’.”
Wolf Cub ran up to Johnny. “It is three days ride from here, my friend, and we must plan for the journey.” The two girls appeared at the crest of the hill, running towards the boys. Wolf Cub stood tall as a warrior, wanting to impress Sarah. Johnny fidgeted, knowing Wolf Cub liked Sarah just like he liked Running Dear.
“What y’all talking ‘bout Johnny?” Sarah looked at Wolf Cub as she asked, wanting Wolf Cub to look at her. Wolf Cub stood tall, looking towards the town, yet sneaking a peek at Sarah from the corner of his eyes.
“Nuthin’ girls should know ‘bout, Sarah. Wolf Cub n’ me a gonna go see Yellow Shirt. Yellow Shirt’s gonna help find this here Whipper Man.”
“What’s a Whipper Man?” Sarah asked. Johnny gave Sarah a stern look; knowing his younger sister would want to tag along.
“That’s what Wolf Cub and me a gonna find out. Now you two git! Me an’ Wolf Cub got a sight a work to do.” Johnny walked to his horse and pulled the ground pin out.
“Grandfather’s at Scared Mountain, that’s three days ride from here. You have to go through the forest that talks or cross over the river, which would take longer. Forest that Talks is very scary. It has been said no warriors who have traveled that path have ever returned.” Running Deer stood by Sarah as she spoke.
Wolf Cub wondered if Running Deer was talking to Sarah or to Johnny. He knew the trip would be scary and dangerous, he hoped his sister and Sarah wouldn’t want to go with them.
Johnny stopped and turned, looking at Running Deer. He hesitated, scared for a moment, but not wanting to show it in front of Wolf Cub.
“I won’t be a scared. Wolf Cub an' me been out before campin’ and such. This here won’t be no different.”
“But it is different, my friend, traveling through Forest that Talks is very dangerous. Many warriors have taken that path, never to return. It is been told of brave warriors being sent to find those lost, only to be lost. At the council fires, the elders decided to make forest that Talks forbidden and none of our tribe has ever gone there again.”
“What ‘bout yer grampa? How’d he git to Sacred Mountain?”
“He is shaman, my friend. He has powerful magic that protects him.”
Johnny toed the ground, thinking. “Don’t matter t’all. We gots to go.”
“Not without us!” The girls chimed in.
“Awww Sarah. Johnny pained. You know paw ain’t gonna let you go! Yer jest a young’n. ‘Sides it’s gonna be dangerous and yer afraid of the dark.”
“Not with Wolf Cub and you to protect us I’m not. ‘Sides I’m gonna be eleven come fall.”
Wolf Cub beamed, smiling. He edged closer to Sarah and his sister.
“I am a brave warrior, my friend.” Placing his hand on Johnny’s shoulder. “I will protect them. They may journey with us.”
Johnny looked at his friend; then at the girls. He knew it was no use to argue, so he agreed and nodded to Wolf Cub.
“Okay, but you girls gotta pay mind, hear?”
“When do we leave, Johnny?” Running Deer looked at Johnny and Johnny blushed.
“In the morning.” He said. “After the chores are done.” Again rubbing the seat of his pants remembering the whupping he got earlier.
The boys rode off towards Johnny’s house to get supplies they would need. Sarah and Running Deer remained on the hill; sitting under the big Oak talking of the big adventure that lay ahead.