Months later as dusk envelopes Chota, Wild Rose is sweeping the ground outside her lodge with a straw broom when she catches a glimpse of Alissah’ racing along the wood line at the edge of town. Her curiosity aroused, she watches closely as Alissah’ scampers off in the direction of Isaac’s lean-to lodge. As if stalking a wild animal, Wild Rose follows her, crouching behind the bushes twenty yards from Big Man’s lodge. From her vantage point she sees Alissah’ is now within thirty feet of Isaac’s lodge. Wild Rose looks about but cannot find Isaac. Smiling seductively, Alissah’ calls out softly “Big Man!”
Wild Rose catches a glimpse of someone walking up the path through the woods coming from the river. It is Isaac, dressed in only a breechclout and still wet from bathing in the river. At the sight of Alissah’, his smile conveys his desire for her. Alissah’ seductively steps up to Isaac, their bodies nearly touching. She turns away, slowly and intentionally brushing her breast against his chest.
Wild Rose’s anger builds as she watches Alissah’s seduction of Isaac. Isaac grabs Alissah’ by her arms and spins her around to face him. Their lips are nearly touching as they gaze into each other’s eyes. Alissah’ kisses Isaac and he responds with passion. It is clear to Wild Rose that they are openly continuing their courtship. “Isaac will not wait until my year of mourning is ended,” she thinks to herself. “He will accept Alissah’s taking him.” Isaac pulls back the buffalo robe covering the doorway to his lodge, and Alissah’ steps inside. As the door-flap closes, Wild Rose’s regrets and frustrations tear at her soul.
Wild Rose returns to her lodge sobbing, but quickly wipes away her tears and tries to distract herself. Knowing Isaac is naïve about women – and knowing Alissah’s brazen nature –Wild Rose can’t help having deep concerns. She lays on her bed trying to sleep.
After tossing and turning for hours, she steps out of her lodge and cautiously makes her way past Tame Doe’s lodge (and her watchful eye). Moments later, she arrives at Isaac’s lean-to. Listening intently, she can hear Isaac and Alissah’ engulfed in passion, her heart shatters.
Walking deeper into the woods, her pace quickens until she is running. After hours of running non-stop, she falls to the ground, completely spent, her heart overflowing with the pain of loss. “ First I lost Kingfisher at the hands of the Creek, and now I have lost Isaac to Alissah’,” she cries. After hours of weeping, sleep finally overtakes her.
The next morning, the sun awakens Wild Rose. At first she is unsure of where she is, but she gathers herself, gets her bearings and runs toward home.
Three hours later, she reaches a very familiar trail and stops to catch her breath and drink from the river. When she sees her reflection in the water, she realizes she is dirty and trail-worn, so she removes her clothing and slides into the cool waters. Several minutes later, she emerges from the river, replaces her clothing and begins to run again. This time she is running to something, not away.
Still following the river, she seeing her sacred place stone and stops. She wades out into the waist-deep water and plunges headfirst into the water. After a short time, she emerges from the river renewed and sits on the flat rock, contemplating her future. In the distance, she hears a woman’s laughter and follows until she catches a glimpse of Alissah’ standing outside Isaac’s lean-to. She watches intently as Alissah’ takes her time adjusting her breechclout before replacing her vest. As Isaac steps from the lean-to, Alissah’ embraces him fervently.
Alissah’ and Isaac walk casually through the woods toward the river, laughing and talking. When they stop at a rock with a flattop surface, Isaac notices the rock is wet. He places his hand on the rock as his eyes search the woods carefully. “Who has been at his secret place,” he thinks. Isaac is uneasy as he and Alissah’ offer up their prayers, and he constantly surveys the area as they disrobe before entering the river.
Wild Rose works her way through the woods to a point upstream that is in clear view of Isaac and Alissah’. As Isaac steals glimpses of her, she slowly removes her clothing and enters the waist-deep waters of the river. She calls out in an inviting tone, “ O-si-yo Is-aac!” Her greeting to Alissah’ is more subdued.
Isaac’s response is friendly but guarded, but the response from Alissah’ is only a cold stare of contempt. Alissah’ knows Wild Rose’s reason for this brazen display.
Wild Rose calls out again as she splashes the water excessively. “I have already done my daily cleansing at my sacred place,” she says. “The coolness of the water felt good on my body, so I returned.”
She continues to splash about in a sensuous manner to insure Isaac and Alissah’ are very conscious of her presence. Isaac tries to ignore her actions, but his eyes are drawn to her. Alissah’ is very aware of Wild Rose’s intent and of Isaac’s attraction to her.
The seductive display now complete, Wild Rose steps from the river and dresses very slowly before leaving. Alissah’ is angry, and she and Isaac quickly dress without a word between them. Alissah’ takes him by the hand, leading him up the trail and away from Wild Rose. All of this takes place under the watchful eye of Tame Doe.
As Wild Rose leaves the river, she is encouraged by Alissah’s anger and Isaac’s reaction to her display. She slowly makes her way up the hill feeling very pleased and confident.
“Isaac will wait till I am out of mourning before Alissah’ takes him as her husband,” she thinks. As she steps from the woods entering the edge of town, Tame Doe steps out from behind a tree blocking her way. Tame Doe’s face is stern. “ Why do you shadow Big Man? You are in mourning!” she scolds. Tame Doe clutches her arm spinning her around to face her. “ Daily cleansing is for purification, not seduction of a man you are forbidden to take! You bring shame on yourself and your clan! This man has been chosen! He will be taken by Alissah’! They are to be married!” she states sternly.
Wild Rose is dazed by the news
“Alissah’ has come to me asking for the blessing of the Women’s Council,” Tame Doe says. “As mother of the Women’s Council, I gave her our blessing.” Stunned, Wild Rose lowers her head to hide her tears and slowly staggers away.
Over the next few months, Wild Rose endeavors to diminish the growing relationship between Isaac and Alissah’, but her period of mourning hinders her ability to intervene. The day of Isaac’s and Alissah’ marriage is fast approaching, and Wild Rose is helpless to stop it. For the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom choose the rock marking Isaac’s silent spot in the woods next to the river, and the Women’s Council clears the knee-high grass from around the rock to forming a large circle of bare ground. Seven days prior to the wedding, the Ada’wehi comes in with burning embers from the Sacred Fire, builds a small wedding fire and blesses the ground.
With the sunrise of the wedding day, the embers of the wedding fire burn low. The family and friends of Alissah’ are the first to arrive, forming a continuous circle around the fire.
Isaac’s father and mother are unable to make the arduous journey from Seven Springs. Big Foot, Ole Hood and their families arrive, gathering at the circle as Isaac’s adoptive family.
Alissah’s mother and her oldest brother, the Raven, take their places beside the sacred fire. Running Deer, standing in as Isaac’s mother, enters and stands across from Alissah’s mother.
As leader of the Women’s Council, Tame Doe enters the circle with two blue blankets and one white blanket draped across her outstretched arms. She makes her way around the circle of friends and family, blessing and greeting everyone. All those who have gathered sing Tsalagi songs that reverberate throughout the assembly.
The Ada’wehi completes his blessing of the circle and takes his place facing Alissah’s mother and Running Deer at the Sacred Fire. Wild Rose, Little Carpenter and Oconostota enter the wedding circle carrying cedar branches crossed over their bodies. They take their places to the side of the wedding fire, and the assembly quiets. The Ada’wehi turns toward the Raven. “Raven, as Alissah’s brother, will you accept your responsibility as e-du-ji, as uncle, guiding Alissah’s children spiritually as well as the ways of this world?” he asks.
The Raven nods. “Tuh-huh.”
Alissah’ and Isaac enter the wedding area’s outer circle. She is dressed in a white buckskin breechclout, blouse, leggings and moccasins while Isaac wears a white muslin shirt and crimson wool robe. The bride and groom approach the Ada’wehi standing in front of the wedding fire. Running Deer takes her place beside Isaac, and Alissah’s mother takes her place beside her daughter. The Ada’wehi blesses the couple, taking one blue blanket from Tame Doe to cover Alissah’s head and shoulders and a second blue blanket from Tame Doe to cover Isaac’s head.
After another blessing, the Ada’wehi removes each blue blanket, handing Isaac’s blanket to Alissah’s mother and Alissah’s blanket to Running Deer. The Ada’wehi then takes the white blanket from Tame Doe, covers the wedding couple’s heads and addresses the assembly: “Under the watchful eye of The Creator, this blanket is the beginning of their new life together.”
Running Deer hands a hindquarter of venison to Isaac who in return gives the venison to Alissah’. “My promise is to provide food and protection for our family,” he pledges. Alissah’ hands the venison to her brother, the Raven.
Alissah’s mother hands Alissah’ a basket holding a pone of corn bread and corn that she passes to Isaac. “This corn symbolizes my willingness to care for and provide nourishment for our family,” she says. Isaac then hands the basket to Running Deer.
The Ada’wehi addresses Alissah’ and Isaac. “Your exchange of gifts reflects the roles of Kanati, first man, and Selu, first woman, put here by the Creator to watch over the land and his people and to maintain balance. These gifts of meat and corn are a vow you, Big-Man, the husband, will hunt for and protect the family.”
“Alissah’, the woman, will tend the corn and will bless her house with children either a bow or a sifter.” By this he means a boy who hunts with a bow or a girl who nourishes and gives life.
Tame Doe steps forward with a gourd. “The Tsalagi first man was Ka-nah-tee, the Great Hunter. The first woman was Say-Loo, the Corn Mother,” she says. “To honor first man and first woman’s life together, keep this gourd of strawberries preserved in honey in your home as they did. May it be a reminder to watch the sting of what we say to those we love and to always keep the sweetness of To’-hee-doo, the Good Peace, the harmony of body, mind and Spirit.
“You will live by these vows and the Creator’s law of balance until that day Alissah’s spirit passes to the Nightland or the day she no longer desires you as her husband. Maintain balance, and the Creator will bless you!”
The Ada’wehi backs away, head bowed. “Doh-dah-dah-go-huh-ee – until we meet again.”
The wedding party and guests reply in unison, “Day’-dah dah-goh’ huhn-yuhn’ – until we meet again.”
Oconostota, Little Carpenter and Wild Rose step forward, dropping their evergreen branches on the wedding fire. The green foliage pops and crackles on the hot coals, casting a heavy grey smoke skyward. Led by the bride and groom, the wedding party steps up to the wedding fire and waves the smoke up and over their heads. The ceremony over, Wild Rose rushes away before anyone sees her tears.
The families, led by the bride and groom, make their way to the Chungke Yard where a huge feast has been prepared. The entire town is in attendance with two noticeable exceptions – Wild Rose and Dragging Canoe. Isaac searches the crowd for Wild Rose, but she is nowhere to be found. Saddened by her absence, he joins the celebration, taking Alissah’s hand. At the onset of the rhythmic beat of drums and chants, the wedding couple enters the yard. The bride and groom lead the first dance, joined by all the town’s inhabitants except for Wild Rose.
The townspeople eat, dance and celebrate until dusk. As night descends, the bride and groom make their way hand in hand through town, with the tribe following the wedding couple to their lodge.
Once inside the lodge, the crowd outside erupts in one last celebratory whoop. Alone inside Alissah’s lodge, they slowly remove their wedding apparel. She wraps her arms around Isaac’s neck. Isaac reclines on the river cane bed with Alissah’ on top of him, kissing him passionately.
The joyous celebration reverberates through the town, pounding in Wild Rose’s ears, then only silence. Deeply depressed, she lies on her bed, sobbing. “I know I must accept that Isaac now belongs to Alissah’, and he is lost to me forever,” she mutters.
With a stubborn air of tenacity, she lifts her head and wipes away her tears. “Or is he?” she murmurs to herself.
On a hot summer morning, a sweaty Isaac and Alissah’ are dragging small logs with his horse. Isaac stops beside a partially constructed cabin next door to Alissah’s lodge and unhooks the ropes from the logs.
Walking to the river for her daily cleansing, Wild Rose passes by and pauses to bid Isaac and Alissah’ a good day: “O-si-yo!” They return the gesture in unison: “O-si-yo!”
Alissah’ enters her lodge, but Isaac watches closely as Wild Rose saunters toward the river, her long unbraided hair cascading down her shoulders, Stopping for a moment, Wild Rose takes a quick glance back at Isaac. As he follows her with his eyes, she smiles playfully before disappearing into the woods. Isaac, confused by his repressed feelings for Wild Rose, can’t seem to free himself from thoughts of her.
The following week, the shirtless and sweaty Isaac stands on a wooden ladder that leans against the lower log wall of the trading post he is still constructing with the assistance of Ole Hood and Big Foot. They are straining to push another log up to Isaac for him to set in place. Seeing Wild Rose approach, Isaac ceases to pull up the log that Ole Hood and Big-Foot are desperately pushing up from below. Hood calls up to Isaac, “Are you going to take this log or not? I don’t know about your end, but it’s getting mighty heavy down here on this one!”
Aggravated by the distraction, Isaac yanks the log up just as Wild Rose walks past. Isaac takes particular notice of her playful greeting to Ole Hood and Big Foot. “O-si-yo!”
They return the greeting: “ O-si-yo Wild Rose!” Ignoring them, she gazes longingly up at Isaac with her full attention. “O-si-yo! Big Man!”
Isaac waves at her, “O-si-yo! Wild Rose!”
In attempt to remain longer, she remarks, “Alissah’ will have a good strong lodge to raise her children.”
“This is not a lodge!” Isaac retorts. “This is my trading post. She has her lodge!”
They share a longing gaze before Alissah’ appears, bringing Isaac water. Their moment broken, Wild Rose acknowledges her:
“O-si-yo, Alissah’. This is good – you have a husband that is such a good provider.”
Alissah’ glares suspiciously up at Isaac, then back to Wild Rose. Sensing their sexual tension, Alissah’ stakes her claim on Isaac.
“ Tuh-huh! My husband is a good provider!” she replies curtly.
The undertone in Alissah’s voice is very clear. Wild Rose nods, and then gives Isaac a sultry glance as she hurries away. Standing on the top of the ladder, Isaac absorbs her every gesture and smiles back in reply, unaware that Alissah’ is witnessing their unspoken exchange. Alissah’s jaw tightens, and she angrily strides back to her lodge as Wild Rose turns away, and Isaac returns to his task.
The next morning, sitting cross-legged on a buffalo robe in the Council House, Wild Rose is in secret negotiations with the Ada’wehi. She hands him several strands of wampum, he smiles, pleased with his payment. He chants an incantation to her, and she repeats the incantation back to him word for word. The Ada’wehi nods his approval – both are satisfied with the arrangement.
As Wild Rose exits the Council House, the morning sun breaks over the eastern mountains. She makes her way through town, coming to her familiar trail to the river. She darts into the woods, careful not to be seen.
The remains of a fire smolder as Isaac sits outside his trading post, tanning a hide. He catches a glimpse of Wild Rose near the woods by the river. Puzzled that she would take her daily cleansing so early, he drops the hide and follows her. When he sees Wild Rose is at his silent spot, he watches and listens in silence.
Kneeling, she recites an unfamiliar incantation: “Now! Listen! You and I are truly set apart! It was decided that you think of me. You think of my entire body. You think of me from your very soul. You think of me, never to forget that I walk about.”
“This is my name, Nan-ya’Hee’,” she continues. “I am a woman of the Wolf Clan! The morning doves will be calling: Gu:le! Hu:! Hu:! Hu:! Hu:! You say, you man, that your name is Is-aac, that your people are Tsalagi.”
The incantation over, Wild Rose smiles and looks into the sky. “Wa-do Ada’wehi! Wa-do Yo-He-Wa!” she utters softly.
Confused by her actions, Isaac slowly walks along the river, contemplating Wild Rose’s strange incantation. In the distance he hears Alissah’ call out, “Big Man! Big Man!”
Battling his confused feelings for each of these women, he is fully aware of his obligation to his wife Alissah’, but those feelings are mixed with his overwhelming guilt over his enduring feelings for Wild Rose. As he breaks out of the woods, he is caught off-guard when Alissah’ appears in front of him and asks, “Big Man, what are you doing by the river?”
He replies defiantly, “At my silent place for daily cleansing.”
Alissah’ pays particular attention to the fact he is not wet. She passes her hand over his chest and holds it up for him to see it is dry. Dusting her hands together, she holds them up, signifying her doubts. Saying nothing more, she walks past Isaac into the woods. In the far distance, she sees a wet Wild Rose sitting on the rock, putting on her moccasins and leggings. Alissah’ turns and leaves as Wild Rose stands, quickly replacing her breechclout and vest.
Now dressed, Wild Rose makes her way along the path toward the town. She steps from the woods, but when she sees Alissah’ having an intense one-way conversation with Isaac, she stays hidden.
Alissah’ enters her lodge with fire in her eyes, leaving Isaac standing alone. Wild Rose witnesses the situation, but remains hidden behind a tree. Smiling shrewdly, she whispers, “Wado Ada’wehi!”
December 1755, The Great Island Town
On a cold harsh night, Little Owl approaches Dragging Canoe. He is standing by a huge fire outside his asi, looking out onto the river. Dragging Canoe hears Little Owl approach but never turns around. “Brother, is Big Man still at Chota?” he asks.
Apprehensive to answer, Little Owl finally replies, “For now. In the spring he leaves with Oconostota to fight the French and Shawnee. They will join Ostenaco War Head-Man of Tom-mot-ley.”
“What of Alissah’ Kway-tee?” Dragging Canoe asks.
Little Owl pauses, anticipating Dragging Canoe’s reaction. “She is big with Big Man’s child,” he answers.
Dragging Canoe stares out over the river. He grits his teeth and barks out, “Go! Watch Big Man. Shadow his movement.”