The Little Wanderer: A Campfire Story

   by Pat Patton

Long, long ago, before the white man came, this place where you now are was 
the site of an Indian village. Its people followed the usual pattern of simple 
life. The braves hunted and fished for food while the women grew corn, ground 
flour, sewed blankets, cooked, and raised their children. 

It is about two of these children that this story tells. One was a little 
girl, and one, a little boy. 

The girl, a very pretty little thing, was very active and quite curious about 
everything.  This curiosity often led her farther beyond the village than she 
should or was allowed to go. Often she brought back various objects like 
beetles, butterflies, colored stones and more to older members of the tribe 
to find out more about them. Because of her exploits she came to be 
called "Little Wanderer".

The boy had been named "Little Owl" by his parents and because his interests 
were much like those of "Little Wanderer", the two were often seen playing 
together. Sometimes they walked along the streams watching the fish; 
sometimes they gathered special stones or bright flowers. Sometimes 
they caught colorful butterflies. 

Near the village was a hollow tree with a handy hollow spot in its interior 
reachable through a knot hole. It was here that the two youngsters kept 
their treasures.

The little girl, when first told the little boy's name was "Little Owl" 
laughingly said, "Who, Who", imitating the call of an owl. All laughed 
and then and there began calling him "Who". 

"Who" and "Little Wanderer" grew up together, spending many, many hours 
playing and discovering their world and all the things in it; and without 
knowing, they were steadily falling in love with each other. 

As the years passed, "Who" would take time out to learn the things that 
young braves must learn and "Little Wanderer" took time out to learn 
those that the women of the tribe must learn and then they would find 
themselves right back together again. 

Lat one morning "Little Wanderer", who was mostly grown up now, was lured 
far from the village in pursuit of an especially large and beautiful 
butterfly. So very intent was she in trying to catch it that no sounds 
from the village reached her ears. Finally she gave up and began to find 
her way homeward. The sun had dropped below the tree tops before she again 
neared the village. 

As she approached, she sensed something was wrong. She heard no laughing 
children, no shouting of the men as they told their stories. Soon she 
could see that wigwams were down and that the entire village was in a 
disheveled mess. 

Some of the villagers, those who were still alive, were crying 
hysterically or weeping somberly and trying to bind each other's 
wounds. As "Little Wanderer" helped with the injured she was able to 
put the story together. A fierce wandering tribe had burst into the 
village, without warning, killing, burning and plundering. So swift 
had been the attack that many of the braves were unable to reach their 
weapons. The villagers gave a good account of themselves but were 
outnumbered and those who did not fall were driven far and wide.

"Little Wanderer" worked hard and long doing what she could do for those 
who remained, dressing their wounds, preparing food, repairing their 
shelters and rebuilding their fires. Occasionally one or two of those 
who were driven off returned, but not "Who"; and "Little Wanderer" vowed 
that when the wounded no longer needed her, she would go out in search 
of him. 

The moon waxed full and waned to new and waxed nearly full again and 
still "Who" did not return. During this time the injured recovered or 
passed on as was their fate and "Little Wanderer" prepared for her journey 
in search of "Who". She parched corn for she would not dare to build a 
fire. She dried meat in thin strips for it could be eaten as she traveled 
and so lose no time in her search.

Finally her quest began. She searched the ground for clues, watching the 
trees at the same time, lest he be hiding there. She searched in caves, 
under the overhanging roots of trees, and along the banks of streams. After 
many days the danger of running into the warring tribe lessened and she began 
to call his name as she traveled, "Who, Who."

"Little Wanderer" traveled on and on, the days became weeks, the weeks 
became months and the months turned into years and still "Little Wanderer" 
searched. Often she covered the same area again and again, sometimes turning 
over the leaves lest there be a clue beneath; sometimes parting the bushes to 
see if he were lying beneath. Always now she called his name, "Who, Who-o-o-o".

The Great Spirit looked down on "Little Wanderer" and was touched by her 
great devotion. In order to help her move more quickly and freely the Great 
Spirit turned her into a wind. Often in these parts even now you will see 
the wind turning over the leaves, blowing the bushes and swaying the trees. 

And on occasion, when you lie awake at night while here camping, or even at 
home in your bed, you will hear the wind outside saying, "Who, Who-o-o-o", 
sometimes loudly, sometimes more softly, but always saying, 
"Who, Who-o-o-o," and you will know that "Little Wanderer" is still 
searching for her beloved brave.