Ssissiatok was returning to the village when she heard their strangely musical voices. They didn’t sound like the voices of the people and they didn’t sound like any of the animals in the forest. She made her way through the trees toward the sounds, carefully watching ahead as she moved through the bushes. They were easy to spot. There were many of them and they had bright blue upper bodies. They stood erect like her people, but they didn’t have long thick tails to balance them. They didn’t have tails at all. Then she saw that they were not alone. Tattasserott, Ssterrost, and Toss were with them. They were talking with these strange creatures. She ducked down into the bushes.
Ssissiatok was young. She had only grown tame enough to enter into a hut a few years before. Like all young ones, she had lived life as a wild animal from the time she was hatched until she had become large enough. Then a group from her hut had captured and tamed her and taught her how to be civilized. Now she lived with a group of twelve others in a large square wooden home where Toss was the elder.
She was close enough now that she could make out Toss’s voice. He was saying something about trading to Ssterrost. Then he began speaking the bizarre lyrical words of the strangers. It seemed so strange to hear those sound coming from his long handsome snout. As she watched, it suddenly occurred to her that the blue and earth colors on the strangers were not their hide or feathers, but some strange material that they had clothed their bodies in. It made sense to her. They wore it like her people wore their paint.
Suddenly one of the strangers called out in a warbling cry. Many of the others took it up as well. Glancing quickly to the Toss and the others, she could tell by their posture that they were as startled as she was. The one that had started the warbling was showing his teeth. She saw Toss relax. She remembered what he had told her. They showed their teeth when they were pleased.
The elder had spent many evenings telling her and the others about when the strangers had come before. They had come and gone when Toss was young and now they were back. Most people thought they would leave again just like they had before, but Toss thought that they might stay this time. Ssissiatok wondered what they would do if they stayed. Would they build villages like her people? Would they trade with them? Would they fight?
The one that had first made the strange warbling stepped away from the others. He walked directly toward her, stopping about six feet away to lean on the trunk of a maple tree. He was looking around at the trees and flowering plants. Ssissiatok remained very still. It didn’t seem possible, but he didn’t see her. She was right there. Was it even a male? Ssissiatok didn’t know for sure. He opened the lower part of his clothing and urinated on the trunk of the tree. Ssissiatok leaned over to get a better look.
Suddenly the stranger caught her out of the corner of his eye and jumped, letting out a shout and a series of melodic words. He fastened his clothing shut and wiped his hands on the leaves of a handy bush. Then he called over to the others in words, most of which Ssissiatok could understand.
“Ssterrost, is this one of yours? I thought I was about to get my blah blah bit off.”
Ssterrost came quickly over and it was clear from his posture that he was not happy.
“Ssissiatok, get back to the village! You are not supposed to be here. If I catch you where you’re not supposed to be again, I’ll bite your tail off.”
Ssissiatok hunkered down to make herself look smaller and turned toward the village, hurrying through the forest. Behind her she could hear the stranger. He was once again making the strange warbling cry.