#6 Little Brave’s Missing Fish
Little Brave dipped his toes into the green pool. This pool was his favorite pool of all those scattered along the trail to his home, a warm tepee. It was now the part of the day the sun set over the tall swishing pines to the west. The sun twinkled between the branches and the pool at his feet darkened by the second. The pool was now as black as the pony his father rode.
Unbeknown to Little Brave, an animal watched him. The animal was not a bear. It was not a mountain lion. It certainly smelled like a skunk, but it was not. It was the animal his people called Buk-Was. Little Brave had only seen one of these towering beings himself a few times, but often he heard about them while sitting in a circle as the elders told their tales of an evening.
Buk-Was sniffed the air. He couldn’t decide what the little human smelled like. But it was a good smell to his nose. A fish, its gills just barely moving, twitched along side of the young boy’s leg. The leg hopped up and down as the youngster paddled his feet in the green pool. “Perhaps it was the fish he smelled,” Buk-Was said to himself.
The boy hummed merrily and glanced to the top of a pine where a dark bird landed, sending a dry branch tumbling to the forest floor. Just as the branch hit the floor not many feet from the boy, Buk-Was snatched the fish up and crammed it into his mouth. The big animal rose to full height, turned and crashed through the brush straight behind the boy's back.
Little Brave, startled, and hopped from the bank of the pool, into it. The black water came to his waist and caused him to shudder. All he saw of the Buk-Was’s presence were the branches of small trees and thick brambles crashing back together from where the big body parted them in hasty flight.
Where was his fish? His eyes swung around searching. No fish! The skunk odor now was thick in the air. “Must have been a skunk that took it,” he said to himself. Then he added, to account for the high brush moving and clashing back to its original configuration, “Or maybe a bear helping a skunk to swipe my fish. Now that’s a story to tell the elders.”
He scrambled from the chilled black water. He at once began putting together his story he’d tell the elders tonight. Unaware, Little Brave trampled over the huge Buk-Was foot prints all along the trail back to the clearing where his tepee home sat─now in the dark evening shadows.