In Her Tent

She put a feather in the doorway of her tent, as her mother told her she should when she was ready to be courted by the village men. Soon there was a circle of men by her fire. She poured each a bowl of broth first. A couple men walked away.

Next she made a plate of steamed vegetables. A couple more men walked away. She asked her mother to taste the broth and vegetables. Her mother nodded that they were fine.

So she made a plate of pig that she had buried with hot coals and leaves. She tested the knuckle and it snapped apart and the meat fell away like it was never attached. So she added a fruit sauce and some of the meat juices too. A couple more men wandered off. So she asked her father to taste the meat. He nodded also.

She served them some berries and liquor her father had taught her to make and said she was quite good at. A couple more men walked away. So she asked her father’s father to taste the berries. He nodded his approval. She knew he was hard to please. So she wondered why the men were walking away then. But there were still some left so she went on.

She showed the remaining men her rope, her net, and her bone work. She was letting them know she was capable of supporting the hunting and fishing they would do. A couple more walked away. She was quite confused. But her father nodded for her to continue, so she did.

She showed the men her fancy dress and trousers she had spent so many hours over and the blankets she had cured, tanned and dyed till even her grandmother was pleased. A few more men walked away.

She went into the tent with her mother and father and they talked about the few men left. Her mother told her their family and relationship issues she had heard thru the village grapevine. Her father discussed their skills as a warrior and a hunter. They asked her which man she would like to lay with and bear his children. She showed her mother the lad she wanted. Her mother nodded. He was a fit young man.

With her parents approval, she went to the fire and sat on the young man’s blanket. The others walked away. So she took her intended’s hand and led him to her tent. After they had lain together, the young man went to get his things and moved them into her tent.

The village had a party in their honour with much dancing and singing.

When a year of moons had gone by and there was no child coming, she set his belongings outside her tent and gave him the gift of a robe she had been working on for a month. He quietly went back to his parents’ tent and her preparations began again.

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