A young Native American is captured by white men in a rapidly changing world.
|There was once a young hunter of the People of the Dawn who was waylaid and captured by white men. They shackled him and drew him out of the forest to the port of Boston. Blackrobes baptized him and encouraged him to worship their nailed god. They put him aboard ship, weighed the anchor and put to sea.
The voyage was long and grueling. The hunter had no idea so much water existed anywhere. He feared his captors – and fervently wished to be free of them – but the sea terrified him even more.
After many months they arrived at the white cliffs that marked the land of the whites. They traveled upriver on a skiff to the greatest city the hunter had ever seen. Ships choked the docks. The streets were filthy. People were everywhere, living amongst their animals, drinking and bargaining and pissing into pots.
The blackrobes brought the hunter to a place stone-built of silent halls and stern old men. There they taught him the works of Aristotle, the art of Caravaggio and the verses of Ovid. He heard the tragedies of Marlowe, of Shakespeare. They dressed him in the waistcoat and breeches of a gentleman. They taught him to bow – low left knee, eyes downcast, fingers twirled just so – and when they deemed him ready he was granted an audience with their King at the Palace of Whitehall.
His Majesty wore his weight in precious stones and sat upon a gilded throne. He was very ugly, despite the thick white powder upon his face, and often called for wine. “Proof, sire,” the hunter’s captors said, “that the heathen might learn the boon of civilization.” They extolled the hunter to speak the beatitudes, whereupon he did so. The King drained his cup and spoke with all his voice. “A man may dress a monkey like a learned Christian, and teach a parrot to speak pretty little words.” The court went up in mirth like kindling in flames, and the hunter felt ashamed. They dragged him from that place and set him on the first ship to Boston.
When the hunter returned, it was summer again. He walked west from the shore unshod. Gangs of children spat on him and passing riders kicked him with spurred boots, laughing. After five days of walking, the young hunter left the western road and found himself in an empty wood. There was no sound save for the wind through the trees and the insects in the lurches. The hunter pulled off his faded waistcoat and tore away his moth-eaten breeches. Naked, he disappeared back into the forest.