#4 Little Brave and Square Jaw
(To be read to your children.)
When Square Jaw was very young, he was mauled by a big black bear. When recovered, everyone said he was strangely different than before he was attacked. One thing everyone found odd was that he refused to wear moccasins. He did not find this strange. The reason he gave was that the warm sand along Eagle Creek was just too good to not feel it on his winter-chilled feet. Square Jaw, now thirty-eight, seldom left the warm sandy area of Eagle Creek. Most nights he’d sleep there too. He didn’t find this strange either. But his tribe did. Square Jaw “The Odd” as he had become known, had many oddities. These oddities, however, are not what this story is about.
Ten-year-old Little Brave often spent time with Square Jaw. Little Brave enjoyed the warm fine sand under his feet, as well. And Square Jaw was his mother’s oldest brother. So, that made Square Jaw family. And what’s more, Little Brave did not think his uncle “strange” at all.
Little Brave enjoyed hearing the stories that Square Jaw liked to tell. Especially did he enjoy the stories of when Square Jaw was a little brave. And often these stories included Little Brave’s mother. Just a few of the stories were happy stories. When Square Jaw and Little Brave’s mother were very young, it was often difficult for the tribe to find enough game to kill or fish to net. All members of the tribe from young to old often spent their days hungry; often, all they could think of was getting something to eat.
Square Jaw could sense Little Brave felt sad when he heard the “hungry” stories, so he concentrated on happy stories that included the games with which the young ones of the tribe occupied themselves.
One story, Little Brave knew he would always remember. That was the story of his mother learning to swim. Square Jaw was much older than his mother and Square Jaw was an accomplished swimmer by the time Little Brave’s mother decided that she would like to learn to swim.
“How hard can it be?” she laughed, when her brother offered to teach her.
The very first lesson was extraordinary. Little Brave’s mother was standing waist deep in the creek when something brushed her knee. It touched her knee for a long time. Whatever it was, was big and long. Giggling she plunged her face in the water to see if she could see it.
“Stop playing,” Square Jaw shouted so she could hear him under the water.
Little Brave’s mother couldn’t believe it. A huge fish hovered on the bottom of the creek not too many feet away. “Square Jaw, come on let’s get it. A big fish, right there,” she said. She pointed near where Square Jaw stood.
Square Jaw squeezed his nose and motioned with a hand he was going under the water after it. Little Brave’s mother again plunged her face into the cold water to watch. She was thinking, “That fish would really taste good for their evening’s meal.”
Just as Square Jaw completely went under the water, the water churned and turned dark. Square Jaw popped up and yelled for Little Brave’s mother to hurry to the bank, for a hairy man (bigfoot) was in the water and after the fish. Square Jaw stumbled through the water on his way to the bank. Not far from it, he whirled around and realized his sister was not following. He dove into the water and almost bumped heads with the hairy man. The massive animal had the squirming fish in his huge black hands.
When Square Jaw broke the water’s surface, his sister had found her way to the bank, sobbing. She was so frightened. In fact, it was the next summer before she allowed Square Jaw to give her another swimming lesson. And, neither she nor Square Jaw considered this “odd.”