And welcome to another wonderful Tuesday.
My latest work, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, is currently with the editor prior to publication. This will be (knock on wood) the second book in The Clan of the Wolf series. The hero is a member of the Society of the Wolf, or as I call it, The Clan of the Wolf. The clan of the Wolf. What’s that?
This is a subject I find absolutely fascinating…and I’d love to talk to you about it. In America’s past, the American Indian tribes had many different societies that a man might belong to. The Society of the Wolf was a very secretive society. In fact, outside of its own members, no one else in the tribe knew who belonged to this society. Why? Because this was the society of those special individuals who were the eyes, the ears and the life blood of the tribe — the Scout.
Brave Wolf, the hero of the new story, is a scout. The book that is currently on the market, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, is the first book in this series, and High Wolf, the hero of that story, is also a scout. These men were incredible men: able to track and even to be able to tell the condition of the person or animal from tracks alone; able to survive in any condition; able to start out naked in any environment and not only survive, but to flourish in that environment. But one of the most fascinating reads about these remarkable men is the particular way the Scout of old moved and swam in water. So graceful was it, it has often been called the Scout’s Water Dance.
Tom Brown, Jr., in his book, THE WAY OF THE SCOUT lets you in on the beauty of the way the scouts of old “swam,” or “moved” in water. My understand goes this way: We all know that if one drops a rock into the water — or any object — it makes concentric circles in the water. Any movement, it would seem, would cause water to move and to announce the presence of man or animal in the water. So, how did the scout of yesteryear manage to move in the water without being seen, without making those telltale concentric circles, and so be able to stalk his prey, or obtain information on the enemy?
In Mr. Brown’s book, THE WAY OF THE SCOUT, he tells you the story of how he came to meet and be taken under the wing of an old Apache Indian, whom Mr. Brown and his friend, Rick, called Grandfather. Grandfather had been trained as a young man into the ageless ways of the Society of the Wolf — the Scout — and Grandfather wished to pass along some his knowledge so that these things didn’t pass out of existence.
I’m going to quote from the book now. Grandfather is speaking:
“You must first understand that it (water) is the blood of our earth Mother, the same blood that courses through your veins. Once entering the water you must blend your mind with that of the water, thus becoming part of the water and ultimately becoming invisible while wrapped in its mind… …You must learn to move with the water, for to disobey its laws and move against its power is to perish.” THE WAY OF THE SCOUT by Tom Brown, Jr.
And so started the lesson, which is at first a little humorous to read. As Mr. Brown and his friend, Rick, were learning to become part of the water, they were having a tough time of it — trying to keep clear of brushes and fallen logs and other obstacles in the water. However, he goes on with the lesson and says in his book, “After nearly two full hours of being impaled, battered, and tangled in sharp brush, Rick and I gave in to the stream’s energy and began to move freely, silently, and quickly.” He goes on to say, “The stream and Grandfather had somehow taught us a great lesson without uttering a word…” THE WAY OF THE SCOUT by Tom Brown, Jr.
However, they had been going downstream and had reached their destination. Now they had to somehow go upstream. Says Mr. Brown that he and his friend Rick were struggling even more now and really fighting the currents of the water. He says that both he and Rick were being beat up by the struggle to fight upstream. Imagine then, these two boys, who upon emerging from the water being battered and tired, with no energy left, then found Grandfather waiting for them — for he had gotten far ahead of them in the water. Says Mr. Brown, “He had that smile on his face, unruffled and relaxed, depicting an air of not having struggled at all. Rick and I, on the other hand, were cold, exhausted, bruised, and cut…”
Grandfather then told the boys that they had chosen to fight the water, instead of moving with it. But how can one move with the water upstream? Grandfather answered their questions by signaling them to follow him back into the water. And here’s what Mr. Brown writes:
“We began to follow Grandfather closely. His motions were like those of a well-choreographed water dance, a flowing ballet, where he moved effortlessly. He weaved back and forth, riding whirlpools, slipping through backwaters on the inside parts of bends in the stream, and dancing across submerged logs without a struggle. He used the power of the waters to move him.” THE WAY OF THE SCOUT by Tom Brown, Jr.
Isn’t that a beautiful description? There is more, of course, as Mr. Brown and his friend, Rick, learn how to move in the water by watching herons and egrets who were in the shallows. They learn how to raise up out of the water without leaving any of the telltale concentric circles, and they learn to stalk the more aware animals — a fox for example — from the water. Mr. Brown says that he and his friend, Rick, went on to stalk all kinds of animals from the water, and he says, “We laughed at the antics of our local wildlife population around the waters of camp. They had become a bit neurotic when approaching the water, but nonetheless seemed happy to join in the game.”
This is an incredible book and an even more incredible journey that Mr. Brown takes you on in this book. It’s an older book, copyrighted in 1995. But in the book, Mr. Brown makes mention of a school, a Wilderness Survival School. If you’re interested, you might pick up the book and see if the school still exists.
In both THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF and BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, there is at least one scene in both books that includes a water scene. When a water dance like this is described so beautifully, of course it moves one, and a person has to write about it to the best of her or his ability.
I thought I’d leave you with an excerpt from THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF and specifically one of the water scenes.
THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF
At the first hint that something had gone amiss, High Wolf immersed himself in the waters of the river, and in doing so, became a part of the river, so much so that not even a swirl could be seen in the water to indicate his progress. Cautiously, he floated toward the ship, practically invisible. He didn’t swim, nor did he float, but rather he executed what could only be described as a dance with the river’s current. Never did he fight the river’s power, but rather he moved with it, letting the water propel him closer to his target.
At last he came up close to the boat, himself a calm influence in comparison to the turmoil aboard the Diana. He could feel the terror there, sense the smoke-induced delirium of the boatmates, but it was not in his mind to aid these men. No, she was the reason he was here; he would find her.
Quickly, he perused the voyageurs, as well as the passengers who were still aboard the steamboat. Some of them were already jumping from the burning remnants of the boat, an action that could bring sorrow, unless a person either knew how to swim with the river’s flow or was strong enough of body to fight it. But perhaps these men were that hardy, for these white voyageurs, who worked the boats, were sometimes admired for the physical marvels they could perform.
Alas, however, High Wolf saw nothing of her.
Making a quick circle around the boat proved to be a waste of time, for he still had not seen her. And so it was that he found himself with little choice but to board the boat. Quickly, he hoisted himself up to the main deck, coming down flat-footed and at a run, aware as he did so that the steamboat was sinking, and with the majority of the Diana’s body enveloped in flames, there was little to be done for her. As it was, her lower deck was flooded, and in places already half submerged.
Still, without losing more than an instant, he found his way around the decks, until as he rounded a corner, something large and heavy fell into the water, creating a terrific splash. But the gray mist of smoke hung heavy over his eyes, and High Wolf found he could see but little.
Swiftly, he trod closer, and looking toward the spot, High Wolf recognized the cause at once: a smaller boat; one he knew to be a lifeboat, had been thrown into the rushing current.
Suddenly, things became worse: A piece of wood from above, engulfed in flames, broke off the Diana’s main hull and fell, streaking, toward the water. And before anyone knew what it was about, the wood, now a flaming dagger, struck the lifeboat. In moments, the boat tipped off balance, catching fire.
A feminine scream split the air, its intensity piercing High Wolf like a knife. Bodies dove off the lifeboat, but not one of these people was female. Where was she?
And then, through the soot-induced haze, he saw her, still aboard the blazing lifeboat, her countenance oddly composed. For she didn’t move, not even to save herself.
What was wrong with her? Was she frozen in place? Although it seemed impossible, he knew that shock could sometimes cause a person to freeze and become unable to save themselves.
Or was the problem caused by another circumstance or a different emotion? Was it her outrageously full dress? Was she afraid, with so much weight upon her, that she might sink, becoming entangled in its mass?
But if that were true, she was surely acting in a poor manner to solve the problem, for she did not remove any of her clothing, or take any action to save herself. Instead, amid the ballet of diving bodies, the princess slowly sank along with the boat.
Quickly, High Wolf plunged into the Missouri’s depths, then came up for breath and caught his bearings. But she was gone, swallowed up by the muddy, swirling waters of the Missouri. That’s when it occurred to him:
Could she swim?
It seemed amazing to him that he had no answer to that; he, who should know her well. Instinctively, High Wolf swam toward the place he had last seen her, and diving deeper into the water, hunted for her, but not with his eyes, for the murky waters of the Missouri did not allow sight for more than a few feet.
No, he searched for her intuitively, spiritually, and in doing so, found her within seconds. But he had no time in which to experience relief. Grabbing hold of her, he kicked out hard, bringing her up with him to the river’s surface, forcing her head above water, where he heard her gasp for breath. She struggled, and down they both went once more.
He kept hold of her with one arm, while with his other hand, he took out his knife, and then he did the unthinkable. As quickly as the water would allow him, he cut off her dress.
In response, she mustered a formidable response. Whereas before he’d seen little life in her, she now fought him with renewed strength, as though he were some sort of madman, or perhaps she, a madwoman. But High Wolf didn’t have time or even the ability under water to explain his actions, and despite her best efforts, he continued cutting away until the dress was removed and the danger had passed.
The weight of her clothing fell away. That this left her attired in little more than her calf-length drawers, hose and corset was hardly discreditable, for she was still almost fully covered.
But their commotion under water had sunk them too low, and an undertow grabbed hold of them. Quickly, he seized her around the chin, and with mighty strokes, fought his way to the surface of the water, not stopping until he heard her sputter.
At least she was still breathing.
He caught his breath, feeling somewhat safer, now that their heads were above the channel’s surface, and he called out, “Do not fight the river’s current, or me, because if you do, this draught will claim us. You must become composed.” He spoke loudly, but calmly, as though the two of them were taking a stroll instead of fighting for their lives. He continued, “You must become one with the water, for if you do, it will protect you.”
But she appeared to be beyond listening, and she fought him with revitalized vigor. Once again, he called out, “Cease your struggles, or you will force me to bind you, so that you do not drown us both.”
He realized that she was obviously unused to the water, and in the end, it required him to use brute strength against her, holding her arms and legs with one each of his own. Meanwhile, he kept afloat, lugging her with him and letting the water carry them back to shore.
After a few moments, she came suddenly alive and howled at him, “I can’t breathe.” She fought him once more. “You…you’re drowning me.”
“I am not drowning you; you are doing it to yourself. Cease your struggle and merge your body with mine. I will not let you drown.”
“And who will keep you afloat?”
“The water, of course. I have no fear of the water. Only those who fight the river’s power ever come to harm in it.”
“Do you see that you are speaking? That you have energy enough to talk back at me?”
All at once, she ceased her struggle. In truth, his words must have had effect, for she at last let her body meld with his, allowing him to repeat his earlier dance with the river’s current, shoving off here, letting the stream take him there, forging through the water as easily as if he were picking his way across lily pads.
It took little time before he managed to set them ashore, appearing, to anyone who might have been looking, that the river had lovingly placed them there. At once, High Wolf left the water, and with her tucked under his arm, he crept into the protection of the bush, where he granted her a moment to catch her breath.
But a moment was all he could afford.
THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF