20191022_lif_black_squirrel_ch06

The story so far: Shrunk down to the size of a chipmunk by the magic of Wesu, one of the Little People, Mac has just been told that he will have to stay this size forever!

n Chapter SIX Wesu’s story

Mac stared at Wesu. “I’m going to be little forever?” he asked. He thought he was going to cry.

“Yes,” Wesu said in that same serious voice. Then he laughed and spun around on one foot. “Unless you listen to my story.”

Mac clenched his fists tight around the bow. It wouldn’t do any good to get angry. Grandma Kateri had told him the Little People were like that. They loved to tease, even when things were really serious. Whatever Wesu said, he would just have to listen.

Wesu sat down on a flat shelf of rock, motioning for Mac to join him. Mac did so, soon realizing that what they were sitting on was one of the patio blocks he had helped Uncle Bear unload from his old pickup truck last weekend.

Mac looked at the bow still held in his left hand. I need my hands to be free, he thought. He wasn’t sure why he thought that, but he found himself working free a loop of the leather that was tied around the bow. Then he slipped the loop over his head and one shoulder so that the long bundle of bow and arrows hung over his back.

Wesu nodded at him in approval. “Good,” he said. “Now are you ready to hear my story?”

“Let the story come,” Mac said. Those were the words Grandma Kateri had told him to say whenever she asked that same question.

“Long ago,” Wesu said, “they say that is when it began. They say it was back in the days of Gluskabe, the first one to walk around in human shape. In those days, there were monsters. Gluskabe was worried, for he knew the human beings would soon be created. You know this story, don’t you, Eagle Boy?”

Mac nodded.

“Good,” Wesu said. “So you know how Gluskabe changed all those monsters, right? But it seems that Gluskabe didn’t get them all. Some escaped and hid. They crawled into the deepest caves so they couldn’t be found. They knew that one day Gluskabe wouldn’t be around. Then they could come out and do whatever they wanted. So some of them just went to sleep. They slept for years and years and years. And now they are starting to wake up again. Why are they waking up? They are waking because of the foolish things that thoughtless humans are doing. Those foolish things–like cutting down all the forests–give strength to the monsters. Some people even become monsters themselves!”

Mac nodded. His mom and Grandmother Kateri and Uncle Bear had been telling him such things for a long time. They had not told him that old-time monsters would come back, but they did talk about things like pollution and diseases, global warming, and the threat to the Earth. They told him how things like cutting down the forests and spilling oil in the oceans were making it hard for all living things.

“We humans,” Uncle Bear had said to him, “are supposed to be the keepers and guardians of the Earth. We are supposed to respect and take care of things and not use everything up. That is what our Old People taught. Now your generation, son, is going to have to work hard to undo all the wrong things that have been done by people who forgot the old ways.”

But when Uncle Bear talked like that, sometimes it just made Mac feel small and weak. Like there was nothing he could do. Sure, he was Indian, but he was just a kid! What could one little kid do that would make any difference? But then there were other times when it did seem as if what he did could matter. Like putting together the petition at school. His petition asked the Town Board to protect Grama Lampman’s Woods from the development company that wanted to cut it all down and build big expensive houses there. The company called the new development Tall Tree Estates.

But there would be no trees if those houses were built. The petition from the school had gotten the attention of the grown-ups. People has started talking and called the Supervisor’s office. The Town Board had made a decision. Tonight there would be a special meeting about the proposed development of Plot 999. Plot 999 was what they called Grama Lampman’s Woods and the land next to it. Mac was supposed to have been at that meeting with his friends. But how could he do that now? How could someone nine inches tall present a petition?

NEXT: The Little People

Glossary and pronunciation of Abenaki words:

Gluskabe (glew-skah-BEY): An ancient Abenaki hero who had the power to change things

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