Chapter 1 In the beginning…

In those days, in those far remote days, in those nights, in those faraway nights, in those years, in those far remote years, at that time the wise one who knew how to speak in elaborate words lived in the Land. XXXI Moomaw did not see us . When we had gone down, and the valorous Bullfrog and the brave Squirrel climbed up the tree and clambered down the other side and were safe, Miquo and I walked along. We walked slowly, and we were very, very weary, and at length came to a halt and began to talk. ‘And it was she, Moomaw, surely it was she?’ ‘Was she? It was ? It was?’ ‘How could we doubt it?’ ‘How could we? Not much. Not much. But she , Moomaw?’ ’ She , Moomaw?’ ‘It was the her. It was the her, surely. And she was very beautiful. And they said it was the her’ ‘They said it was the her? Said it was the her? Said it was the her?’ ‘Why, Moomaw, it was Mollock, surely. And the beautiful woman MollockMoomaw, I knew her not, but she sang it, Moomaw, sang it like no other singer.’ ‘And it was Moomaw, it was ? It was Moomaw, surely.’ ‘It was , Moomaw? It was Moomaw, surely? It was Moomaw, surely?’ ‘It was Moomaw, it was Moomaw, it was , surely? Surely? Surely?’ And so we talked on and on. So I said: ‘Oh, the wise one, the wise one, the brave one’ ‘The brave one, the brave one’ ‘But he was not brave! Was not brave! He was not brave!’ ‘Not brave? Was not brave? Not brave?’ ‘Not brave. Not brave. He was not brave.’ ‘He was , he was ?’ ’He was not brave. He was not brave. He was a thief and a scoundrel, he was.

He worked the other agent and the chief, and the chief’s wife, and nearly everyone else. He was a corrupting influence. The government might have gotten along without him; but the other officials would not. As for the chief, he had a running sore which was, as the saying goes, all over. When he went around the town to check up on graft in his office, and on the other officials, his short, stubby, bony fingers kept on seeking and probing their skin with his nails, until one of the country doctors, whom he always consulted, was called in, as a result of which and to the chief’s entire satisfaction the nail fungus grew plentifully and multiplied, and the smallpox appeared and by fits increased in violence. The chief got peace, and the fungus became an army to protect him from his old cronies, for they were covered with it. The chief’s health failed. He was an Indian–old, broken, and crazy. He died. The fungus, strong and self-supporting, took up the responsibility of administering the new chief. The vine cannot make its own grapes, was one of the best definitions of colonization ever offered to the missionaries. The vine cannot make its own grapes was the chief’s opinion of the fungus. But his successor was unable to prevent the old fungus from increasing, and when the old chief died the new one could not save him. It was his hair-dresser who saved his life by digging out the root of a vine, at which he did marvellous work–so marvellous that he induced the new chief to have his own head-dress-maker treated in the same way. The result was a complete change. The old man recovered, and very soon his chiefs, his head-dress-makers, and other servants all got the disease of the vine, so that the two chiefs who ruled the town after the change of government had to live on the town common in rags and tatters, while the administration of the government devolved on the head-dress-maker, a silent old gentleman, with two pig-tails.