Hidden in Mist

Hidden in Mist

by Penina Keen Spinka


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Hidden in Mist by Penina Keen Spinka

Anna Lee Waldo, author of SACAJEWEA said about PICTURE MAKER that she did not want the story to end. Linda Lay Shuler, author of SHE WHO REMEMBERS, said PICTURE MAKER is totally engrossing, and Bravo!

Sue Harrison, author of MOTHER EARTH, FATHER SKY said: "Penina Keen Spinka holds the gift of magic in her words. Authentic details of ancient life send the reader on a journey that will delight and her characters are so well-drawn they make a place for themselves in the heart."

Take a journey into legend.
Hidden In Mist - Bereaved prairie dweller. He becomes the guardian spirit of Niagara River and its majestic Niagara Falls. He lives in a cave behind it.
Tododaho - Onondaga - War chief and sorcerer who intends to change Tribal Law.
Jekonsaseh - Mother of Nations - She escapes from a planned marriage and intends to end her life at Niagara Falls. Hidden in Mist saves her and becomes her mentor. She lives to fulfill her destiny.
Hiawatha - Onondaga - Father of Laughing Water - cursed for opposing Tododaho. He becomes the man-eating scourge of the wild places. The Peacemaker can heal his mind, but can he live with the memory of what he was?
The Peacemaker - Called Deganawida (Thinker) - Huron. Son of a maiden and a spirit. His grandmother tried to drown him at birth. He will bring peace to five warring nations and unite them into the Five Tribes Confederacy (the Iroquois).
Ole Red Hair - Greenlander. He survived his country's doom. With his sister, Dream Weaver, Ole finds sanctuary in the New World with Tribe Ganeo-gaono, later called Mohawk. Fitting in is just the beginning. Ole Red Hair must accept his nature before he can reconcile with the woman he loves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504969055
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 01/07/2016
Pages: 246
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Hidden in Mist

By Penina Keen Spinka


Copyright © 2016 Penina Keen Spinka
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5049-6905-5



Saiyen-gu's father died. After the burial and mourning, his sisters went home to their husbands, leaving Saiyen-gu alone with his mother in her tipi. "Well, Saiyen-gu," said his mother, narrowing her eyes as though dried buffalo dung smoke irritated them. "All I have now is you." He suppressed a sigh and turned his wide leather armlet, a remembrance of his father, over and over on his forearm. It was studded with copper and turquoise beads in a design of the moon and the sun. "Your sisters take care of their husband's mothers and their children. With your father gone and no children in his tipi, who will take care of me? You need to marry a hard-working wife who can cook and clean and give me grandchildren to fill my tipi."

Despite his father's trading and the wealth he had brought them, his mother deemed him a failure. "I learned to trade. Father has customers from the Mississippi to the Great Lakes. They are mine now. When was I to find a wife?"

"If you weren't such a dreamer, you would have one by now."

Father had confided to his son that he first took up trading to escape his wife's nagging. "Iowan girls want a warrior, not a trader." It went without saying that he would never make a warrior. He supposed he would kill in defense of his family and village, but to go out raiding and kill? That was not in his nature. In fact, he was disgusted that it was in anyone's nature.

His mother snorted. "A wise maiden might see the good points of a trader husband. I could tell her how I enjoyed being married to your father. For one thing, you won't be home to pester her except when Father Winter closes the trails. For another, you will return with copper and turquoise trinkets from the south, and quill work and cakes of maple sugar from the east. With enough sons and daughters, your wife could be happy." There was no arguing with his mother. He was already feeling sorry for his wife-to-be. Mother was all business now, not giving him time to think. "How many maidens have you asked so far?"

"Every available maiden in this village and several nearby." Father would have walked out by now, but he'd only have to come back. The snow was nearly gone. He wondered how his father managed the months he had to spend with Saiyen-gu's mother until he could leave again. "What do you suggest?"

"Ask your sisters." It was late already. His brothers-in-law would be welcoming their wives home under the blankets. It could wait until the morning.

After breakfast, Saiyen-gu went to his younger sister's tipi. She offered him a bowl of black walnuts and a mug of mint water. "What do you want, Brother?" she asked.

"I came to get your sage advice. Mother wants me to marry, but as you know, no Iowan maiden will have me. What should I do?"

She chuckled. Her brother was hopeless, but he was family. One must try. "You know why they refuse. You've never raided. There are no notches on your coup stick. You don't have a coup stick. What kind of status will you give your wife? The girls think you're a coward and who can blame them?"

He decided not to lose patience. "You know I'm not a coward. I don't like to fight. I want to be like father. You wouldn't have called him a coward."

"Father was seldom around. If you want to marry, my advice is to be the kind of man a woman wants. Join my husband on the next raid. Then, I'll find you a wife."

He told her he would think about it and went to ask his second sister. She had no better advice, but she recounted his good qualities. "Little brother, you are tall and you have broad shoulders. You're not exactly ugly. You can give a wife pretty children. That is something. Come back tomorrow and I'll give you an answer." Her children, his nieces and nephews, climbed onto him and asked him to tell them what the rest of the world was like for they never left the world of the prairies.

He told them about the high mountains in the west and the cities in the south, and the woodland of the east. "With trees so close together, you can't see if there is a bear hiding and getting ready to swallow you. You won't know anything until you're inside him." They giggled and tickled him, liking his deep laugh. His sister nodded, thinking he would be a decent husband and father, telling stories all winter, not around to annoy a wife the other three seasons.

The next day, his second sister said, "Saiyen-gu. A girl from the plains is unlikely to want you. A prospective wife will share your status. Unfortunately, you have none."

"I know that. What can I do to have status besides killing someone?"

"Why not look where people don't know you? Go somewhere else. Bring obsidian points and bracelets east. Come home with cordage and supple wood for bows, sugar and quill work, and a wife. Mother can teach her to keep house as she wants. Get her pregnant. You'll have a baby in less than a year. What do you think?"

"Your suggestion is reasonable," he said.

He told his mother he was going east to trade and look around. He made her no promises, but to Mother, the issue was settled. "She should not be lazy. She should be fertile. Be sure she comes from a large family. You might stay a month to be sure before you bring her home. I want grandsons who will be men and do the things men should do. My tipi used to be full of children and food." She continued her demands and complaints until he went outside for fresh air.

The next day, he put together his father's travois and packed his trading goods. With his mother's packets of jerky and parched corn in his backpack, he visited his sisters to say goodbye. He told his family goodbye and set out for the eastern forests. He didn't like them much. One felt closed-in all the time. One couldn't see the ancestors' campfires in the sky through the trees, except over rivers and lakes.

At the first woodland village, he did not mention his quest. With his copper bracelets, skinning blades and obsidian points, he made good trades. He kept his eyes open, but the maidens were too young or already married. One day, between villages, he came to a wide lake and decided it was a good place to camp and fish. He had picked berries on the way and had a supply of dried beans.

The lowering sun was the color of his turquoise. It touched the low clouds with pink and orange. Reflections from the lake were pretty and upside down. The ripples made the sky and clouds seem to sway. Flocks of grey and white seabirds bobbed between wavelets. Otters romped and teased in the shallows, enjoying the last of the light. A fish tugged at his line and woke him to his task. He cooked his supper and sat back to watch the stars appear over the lake as he ate.

He set up no shelter that night. The stars seemed friendly. The constellations were the same as at home above the lake. Lakes were like the plains. The spirits were closer. He wondered which campfire was Father's and wondered if Father was looking down, watching him looking up. He threw twigs and spruce cones on his fire. He didn't care for hunting, but the bears couldn't know that. Humans and animals were not meant to be friends, but it would be nice. He wasn't opposed to eating meat in principle, but ending a life chilled him. "Sorry fish," he said to the bones of his supper and buried them under a pile of spruce needles. "Maybe next time, you'll be the human and I'll be the fish. We can take turns." He agreed with his mother that he wasn't like other men. He wondered if a woman could actually like him.

At last, he wrapped himself in his hide blanket and closed his eyes. Solitude led to thoughts. For a while, he listened to loons calling to the moon and tried to picture his future wife. Maybe she was looking at the same sky and wondering with whom she would share her tipi. He tried to imagine her residing with her large, hard-working family. Would she have a nice voice? Would she nag? Would she get along with his mother? Smiling because he decided she would be just talkative enough, but not too talkative, he drifted off.

He came to a larger village – more people, more trades, more maidens, perhaps. The chiefs and faith-talkers welcomed him and the women brought him a bowl with chunks of venison in a stew of beans, corn and squash. The broth was fragrant with herbs. Satisfied, he thanked them and extended greetings from his Iowa People. There being much of the day left, he set out his wares.

The men admired the black points that had traveled so far. The maidens admired the copper and turquoise. Some of them admired Saiyen-gu's strong shoulders and broad back. He heard their musical whispers and tried to understand. He had learned some of the Erie speech with his father several years before. The girls were speaking of his eyes with their exotic tilt. They supposed it was because he came from the mysterious Plains. His accent was like music when he spoke their words.

He wondered if one might leave her home for him. Some were too young, others had children and several were big with child, but there was one. A chief watched her vigilantly. "Red Wing," he said, "get back."

"Where did these black, shiny rocks come from?" asked a youth.

"Be careful," said Saiyen-gu. "The edge is sharp. It would make an excellent skinning knife."

The boy smirked. "Or a dagger or the point of a spear." He stepped high in a war dance, the knife in his hand. "I could skin my enemies. Go on, Trader. Tell us where the blades came from."

Saiyen-gu smiled to his audience. Red Wing smiled too and pretended she was not looking at him. "Once, long ago, a mountain west of the prairies exploded. It made a great noise. Rocks jumped from its throat like corn kernels popped on a hearth. Some said a monster lived in the mountain and he was angry." Saiyen-gu did not know all the words he used, but he acted out his story. Everyone was entranced. He was an entertainer as well as a trader. Red Wing could not take her eyes off him.

He talked about the large cities near the Father of Rivers, Mississippi. "These are very popular in Cahokia. Have you heard of Cahokia?" They had not. "It is a city." He used the Cahokian word since neither the Iowan nor the Erie people had such a word. He described it like many towns gathered round a great mound with a house on top for the king. "King?" asked the chief.

"High chief. Ordinary chiefs bow to him and touch his feet to their heads." He wasn't sure of this, but it made a good story. "City houses are built of clay and rock and sun bricks made of mud and straw. The Cahokians ride in boats day and night on Father Mississippi. They bring each other flowers and beans, copper and turquoise and clothing made of woven cotton instead of skins. They keep turkeys right in the city, and use the feathers and skins to make beautiful robes. Sadly, I have none to show you."

"Will you come back with some?" asked Red Wing's father" "Will you tell us more stories?" asked her mother. "Do the people make music and dance?" asked Red Wing. Her mother pulled her back. It was not proper for a maiden to speak boldly.

"Oh, yes," said Saiyen-gu. "They wear these beautiful robes to dances. They make music with copper bells and clay flutes. This is how they dance." He showed them a portion of a dance spreading his arms out like wings and pretending to glide on a current, twisting and turning, singing an Iowan marriage song for luck.

Red Wing gave him a shy smile. He met her eyes longer than was seemly. She hoped her mother had not noticed. Red Wing's mother said men did not like bold women, but she could not help wondering if the handsome trader could like her. She was more than ready for a husband, but none of the Erie men were so interesting or well-proportioned, and Saiyen-gu could sing. His voice gave her happy shivers.

After the trading, they ate and went to their curved wigwams which smelled of wood and were nothing like tipis. Red Wing confided to her friends and sisters that she was going to seduce the trader so he would take her home with him.

"Don't do it. We'll never see you again," they cautioned.

"Don't tell Mother," said her sister. "She'll tie you to the lodge pole so you can't go to him."

"Shush then."

They continued to try to dissuade her. "You don't know his customs. Maybe he already has a wife or two."

Red Wing thought her sister might be envious. "I'll ask him. If he doesn't already have a wife, I will make him want me."

Smooth bowstrings, supple wood for bows, and lumps of maple sugar were given to Saiyen-gu in exchange for the obsidian points. Also sacks of parched corn and beans for his return journey. He kept his last bracelet as a bride gift. Perhaps he had found one in the chief's daughter, but he needed to ask her parents.

Red Wing's father invited him to visit with them until he was ready for sleep. He liked to watch the fire sink to glowing coals. Everyone was a silhouette, but Red Wing's eyes reflected the glow. He talked to all of them, but had his mind on Red Wing. "You should see the sun set over the prairies and the wide-winged condors that soar on the morning wind," he said. "I could show you the Mississippi." He could be happy with her. He knew he could. He would ask her father for her tomorrow.

He wished his hosts good night and slipped into his blankets in the small guest wigwam. He was half asleep when Red Wing slipped under his blanket. Startled, Saiyen-gu sat up. "Who is there?" he asked in his own tongue.

"Me. Red Wing," she replied, guessing at his question. She touched his fingers to her mouth to show him that she was smiling. He smiled back and lifted her fingers to his lips to show that he was pleased. "Do you already have a wife?" she whispered.

"No, but I am looking for one." Before they slept, she had convinced him that they belonged together. One thing, though, he must tell her, even if it decided her against him. "We will live in my home on the plains with my mother. I will defend you as well as I can, but I don't raid. I have killed no one. Will you think me a coward and be ashamed to be my wife?"

"Never," she whispered. Her dreams were coming true. "I will always be with you." He did not understand how that could be. She must mean as long as they both lived, but it was good enough.

The next morning, he offered her parents his copper and turquoise bracelet in exchange for Red Wing. They did not object so after breakfast, her mother summoned the village's faith keeper to invoke Corn Mother's good will on the new couple and wished them well. Saiyen-gu tied his bundles onto his travois, secured his back pack and looked to his wife. Red Wing embraced her parents and sisters, and they began.

They stayed in villages where they traded stories for supper and a warm place to sleep. The trees gave out until there were only willows and slim birches beside brooks, and the grasses grew higher. Red Wing saw her first plains bison. They made camp on a rise and watched a hunt. An Iowan band drove them forward with yells and spears. Others were waiting behind the tall grass. They killed several, enough to supply meat for a month or more.

They found Saiyen-gu's village. It had moved several times in following the herds. He introduced Red Wing to his mother and sisters and his nieces and nephews who were soon all over him, demanding treats. Everyone liked Red Wing. They lived with Saiyen-gu's mother who took to her at once. Red Wing did not mind the work as long as she could share her husband's blanket at night. His sisters showed her how to erect a tipi and how to find and dry buffalo dung for fuel. The women shared tanned hides to cover the lodge poles of the new couple's home and helped them enlarge their tipi as their family grew.

Saiyen-gu brought Red Wing to the Mississippi. They and their children picnicked on its banks. The wild flowers were bright beautiful spots of red and blue in the sea of long grasses. Red Wing never accompanied Saiyen-gu on his trade journeys to Cahokia. She was too busy caring for the children, tanning hides, gathering dry dung, and sewing, but she found friends and took joy in her children and her tall husband. She was happy.

The peaceful years ended when Omaha tribesmen raided. The Iowans raided back, stealing meat, women, and boys to replace those killed. Saiyen-gu was derided for urging peace. "Weakness makes you a target," said his friends. "Wouldn't you defend your family?"

"I would, but I won't go looking for war."

"What if they killed or took away your children? Wouldn't you want revenge?"

"If others felt as I do, it wouldn't happen." His brothers-in-law and cousins said he was a dreamer. They raided. Fewer returned.

Saiyen-gu's boys grew up and took the warrior way from their uncles. They began to look down on their father. Saiyen-gu's daughters married warriors. Only Red Wing understood. When their last daughter took her place in her mother-in-law's tipi, Red Wing told Saiyen-gu she wanted to visit her family in Erie.


Excerpted from Hidden in Mist by Penina Keen Spinka. Copyright © 2016 Penina Keen Spinka. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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