by Marvin Moore
Martha Hauser brushed a strand of graying hair from her forehead and sighed.
Two deep lines formed between her eyes. She laid a bundle of cotton in her lap
and pushed her chair away from the spinning wheel in front of her. Just then a
canary in a cage in the front room of the cabin began to sing. Mrs. Hauser
looked at the bird and smiled.
"I'm glad Catherine insisted on bringing you when we moved from
Pennsylvania," she said. "You sing as if there wasn't a care in the world!"
Mrs. Hauser looked up as her daughter, Catherine, stepped through the front
door, carrying a wooden bowl filled with unshelled peas. The late afternoon sun
shone through her long, golden hair. The girl smiled. "This is all I could
find in the garden today." She drew a three-legged stool toward the spinning
wheel. "I think there's time to shell them before we go to the fort." She
lighted a lantern, then smoothed her long, blue skirt with one hand, sat down,
and began shelling the peas. Her mother sighed again and returned to her
spinning. Neither one spoke for a while.
Mrs. Hauser broke the silence, "Did you notice anything in the forest?" she
asked. Her her voice sounded tense.
Catherine shook her head, and the lines in her mother's face relaxed. "I saw
the guard while I was in the garden," she said. "I'm sure he'll warn us if
there's any danger. Besides, God is our real Guard, and nothing will happen that
isn't part of his plan. I'm sure He won't let anything harm us."
The Hausers and their 14-year-old daughter had settled in North Carolina
with a group of Christian families two years before. Nobody had worried much
about Indians then, so they built a fort with their cabins in the clearing on
the outside of the fort. Recently, though, the Indians all along the Atlantic
coast had been restless, and several days word had reached the village that some
were on the warpath, intent on ridding the land of the white settlers. The
village council appointed a guard to watch the forest all day, and everyone
slept in the fort at night.
Darkness had begun to settle over the land by the time Catherine finished
shelling the peas. She set them on a shelf beside the bird cage just as the
Canary began to sing again. Catherine leaned toward the cage and poke a finger
inside. "What a pity you have to be a captive, little bird," she said. She
thought a minute. "But if you weren't a captive, we couldn't hear you sing to
us about God's love, could we?"
Mrs. Hauser stood to her feet and pushed the spinning wheel into one corner
of the cabin. "We'd better go to the fort," she said. She started to pick up the
lantern, then stopped and turned her head to one side. "I hear someone running!"
A man's face appeared in the door for an instant. "The Indians are coming!"
he shouted, and he dashed to the next cabin.
Mrs. Hauser turned to Catherine "Run!" she screamed. "My Bible!' she said.
"No!" her mother cried, "there isn't time!" But Catherine had disappeared
into the back room of the cabin. A second later she returned, clutching a Black
book in her right hand. Her mother ran out of the door ahead of her. They heard
the wild cries of Indians in the distance. All the way to the fort, Mrs. Hauser
kept turning her head to be sure Catherine was following close behind. She burst
through the front gate, relieved that they had made it in time.
A large crowd of villagers milled about in the yard of the fort. Shrieking
Indians reached the wall just as the gat man locked the gate. Soon, arrows began
flying over the wall, and everyone ran for the cover of the church in the center
of the stockade.
The cries of the Indians ceased abruptly. Astonished, the villagers looked
at one another. Then they began searching for their family members. Mrs. Hauser
soon found her husband. "Where's Catherine?" he asked.
"Somewhere," Mrs. Hauser replied. "She followed me into the fort." She began
looking about. Not finding he immediately, she moved among the people.
"Catherine," she kept calling but there was no answer. Thoroughly alarmed, she
found her husband again. "Catherine is not here!" she said. Then she began
wringing her hands. "She's gone!" she cried. "Catherine's gone!"
"Don't worry, We'll find her," her husband said.
But they didn't find Catherine. A quick council was called, and three men
were appointed to leave the fort with Mr. Hauser in search of his daughter. Mrs.
Hauser insisted on going along. They carried lanterns, and searched every inch
of the way to the Hauser's cabin. They searched every corner of the cabin, but
nowhere did they find Catherine.
"Are you sure she left the cabin?" Mr. Hauser asked his wife.
Mrs. Hauser sank into her chair and buried her face in her hands. Her body
shook, and she wept softly. "Oh, Catherine, my Catherine," she cried over and
over. She raised her head and looked into her husband's eyes. Her lips quivered.
"Catherine followed me out the door. Grabbing her bible from a crude wooden
table, she had burst through the front door. Dim shadows had raced across the
clearing toward the village. Startled that the Indians were so close, Catherine
raised her skirt to her knees and ran behind her mother toward the fort.
She had almost reached the gate of the fort when a stone struck the back of
her head. She was vaguely aware of falling and of dropping her Bible as she
sank to the ground. Strange voices echoed in her ears. She felt strong arms
seize her and then she knew no more.
Red Raven had aimed his stone well. He saw the Bible drop from her hand, and
picked it up before lifting her from the ground. He examined the wound the stone
had made. A deep gash cut the back of her head, and a trickle of blood stained
her golden hair. Red Raven put his ear against her back and listened. He
grunted, slung her limp form over his shoulder, and trotted back toward the
Halfway there he met Chief Big Bounding Elk. They exchanged a few words,
then the chief whistled a signal and turned back to the woods. Red Raven
followed him into the thick undergrowth. A few minutes later twenty-five
war-painted gathered about Catherine in the darkness. They talked excitedly.
Big Bounding Elk gave a sharp order. Red Raven raised Catherine to his
shoulder again, and the Indians stole through the forest single file, away from
Crickets chirped in the
darkness. Owls hooted in the trees, and a wolf howled in the distance. Toward
midnight the moon rose over the horizon and filtered its light through the trees
onto the moss-covered forest floor. A light rain fell during the early morning
The strong men took turns carrying Catherine through the night. From time
to time the girl moaned and mumbled a few words, then sank back into
unconsciousness. Shortly before dawn they reached a clearing beside a shallow
stream. Red Raven laid Catherine on the grass, and they all sat down a short
distance away to rest.
Catherine roused as the morning light began to creep across the eastern
sky. She moved her feet, and raised herself on one elbow. "Oh," she moaned,
and she pressed her hand to the back of her head. She blinked her eyes and
gazed about. "Where am I?" she asked.
Then she saw the Indians. "Oh!" she gasped, and she shrank back to the
earth. She kept looking at them with wide eyes. Red and black war paint
covered their faces and chests. The braves wore leather girdles, and the chief
wore a deerskin waistcoat.
Slowly, the events of the previous evening began to take shape in
Catherine's mind. What will they do to me? she thought. Maybe they'll kill me!
Or they'll take me away, and I'll never see my family again. I've got to get
home! Father in heaven, give me courage!
Catherine struggled to her feet. She stumbled toward the braves, who sat
watching her silently, motionless, expressionless. Catherine pointed back into
the forest. "Take me home," she said. The Indians didn't move. "I said, 'Take
me home!'" Still the Indians didn't move. Catherine realized that they didn't
understand her, or that if they did, they had no intention of complying with her
Big Bounding Elk rose slowly to his feet, crossed his arms across his chest,
and gazed at her evenly, intently, but not fiercely. Catherine lowered her
eyebrows and looked straight back into his dark eyes. She felt her heart pound.
Her throat tightened. She wanted to scream, to weep, to fall at his feet and beg
him to have mercy and return her to her family. But she knew that she dared not.
Instead, she gazed into his face, at the high cheekbones, the firmly set jaw,
the black hair that fell about his shoulders. They stood eyeing each other for
a long moment.
Big Bounding Elk broke the stare. He looked at one of his brave and gave a
short, sharp command. The brave rose swiftly to his feet and rushed into the
forest. Catherine wondered what the chief had said, but she no longer felt
afraid. A few minutes later the brave returned with a bowl-shaped piece of bark
Then he rose, walked over to Catherine, and handed her the bowl.
Slowly, Catherine raised her hands and took the bowl. "Th-thank you," she
said quietly. She raised the edge of the bark to her lips and drank the water.
The Indian took the bark again, and returned to the river several times, till
she had had enough.
Catherine realized now that the Indians meant her no harm. "Thank you, God,"
she whispered. "And please make them take me home. Or help the men from the
village to find me."
The Indians drew parched corn from pouches they carried, and shared some
with Catherine. She put some of the kernels in her mouth, and shuddered. But it
was obviously the only food they had, and she managed to choke down enough to
satisfy her hunger. Two of the braves hunted berries in the forest and brought
them to her. She smiled, and thanked them. They grunted and walked away.
Big Bounding Elk gave another order, and the Indians all gathered about him.
He pointed to two saplings that stood about six feet apart at the edge of the
forest. He spoke a few words, and the braves scattered into the woods.
Catherine's head began to ache again, so she sat on the grass and watched as
they brought vines and strung them between the saplings. Then they began weaving
other vines between them.
Suddenly, Catherine realized that they were fashioning
a large net. What are they going to do with the net? she wondered. Suddenly,
fear began to creep into her mind again. Would they put her in the net and tie
her up and leave her? Would they drop her in the river to drown? What kind of
prison was this they were weaving with the vines? "Dear God," she prayed "Please
protect me from harm. And please help someone from the village to come and find
me before it's to late!"
Catherine watched apprehensively as the
braves wove the last strands of vine into the net. Her anxiety made her nearly
forget the ache in the back of her head. She shrank back when they motioned for
her to come. Big Bounding Elk, the chief, barked and order, and one of the
braves sprinted to her, picked her up in his arms, and carried her to the net.
Terrified, she wanted to scream, but she held her breath. The Indian dropped her
into the net.
Catherine shut her eyes and waited for the worst. The Indians removed the
net from the saplings, and she felt herself bouncing up and down as they walked
away with her in the net. She raised her head and opened her eyes. The Indians
were walking single file through the forest. An Indian in front of her and one
in the back of her carried the net. She realized that they had made a crude
hammock so she would not have to walk. "Thank You, God," she whispered, "for
helping the Indians to be king to me."
Catherine closed her eyes again and rested. The back of her head throbbed.
She desperately longed for home, the comfort of her parents and friends, and her
Mother is crying for me, she thought. She doesn't know whether I'm dead or
alive. Father and a group of men are probably searching for me. God, please help
them to find me! Don't let the Indians get too far away!
Catherine kept praying, and she kept watching the sun rise in the eastern
sky. As they traveled farther and farther, a cold fear crept into her mind.
"Maybe they won't find me after all!" she whispered. By the time the sun beat
straight down, she had decided that her captivity was absolute and that there
would be no deliverance. Hopelessness swept over her then. She knew that she
must make her way in life alone, a prisoner among strange people who were
She buried her face in her arms so that the Indians would not see, and wept
and wept. "Oh God," she cried. "Why? Why? Why? Why must I be captured like an
animal, trapped like a bird in a cage? Where were You last night when the
Indians attacked our village? Why must this happen to me?"
For several hours, Catherine gave way to despair. Her mind burned with
agony, and her weeping never ceased. By mid after noon she was so exhausted
from the strain that she fell asleep. She felt better when she awoke, and she
began to think of the future, not as she wanted it, but as it must now be. She
decided that what she could not change she must accept.
Slowly, a new thought began to form in her mind. Maybe this was God's plan
for her life! Hadn't she told her mother just the day before that God would
allow nothing to happen to them that was not part of His plan? She remembered
Joseph, who also was taken captive from his home to a strange land, and of the
great mission he fulfilled for God. She thought of Jesus, who left heaven to
live among a people who finally killed Him, in order that He might save them.
And she remembered the words He spoke: "Love Your Enemies."
Catherine determined that her captivity would not be the end of her
usefulness or of her happiness. It would not mean the end of her service to God,
but the beginning of a new service in a new place. "Dear God," she prayed, "Help
me to do Your work wherever I may be."
Catherine prayed quietly in her hammock the rest of the afternoon. Towards
sunset the party stopped for the night in a small clearing by a creek. Several
of the Indians built a fire. The rest caught some fish, which they wrapped in
mud and laid in the fire to cook. Again they shared there meal with Catherine,
who by now had gone for more than twenty-four hours with nothing but a few
kernels of corn.
Soon everyone had eaten his fill. Sitting on a grassy spot, Catherine busied
herself with her thoughts and failed to notice that the Indians had quietly
gathered in a circle about her. Bid Bounding Elk grunted, and Catherine glanced
up. "Oh!" she gasped, and she threw her hands to her mouth. She looked from one
to the other. They did not smile, but neither did she see anger or threats in
Big Bounding Elk reached inside his deerskin waistcoat and drew out a small,
black object. "My Bible!" Catherine cried and she sprang to her feet. Big
Bounding Elk walked slowly to her and handed her the book. "Oh, Thank you!" she
exclaimed. She clutched the book to her breast. Then she knelt on the ground and
looked toward heaven, "Thank You, dear God," she said. "Thank You for preserving
your word for me in my captivity."
When she had finished praying, Catherine looked again at the Indians. They
had fallen back, and whispered quietly with one another, casting guarded glances
at her and the book. She realized that they felt a sense of awe in her presence
and in the presence of the Bible, as though the book held some supernatural
power that they did not understand.
All that night, Catherine slept in the hammock. before dawn the next morning
the Indians were on their way. For seven days she rode farther and farther away
from home. She still longed for her own people, and she wept and prayed that God
would some how deliver her. But she spent most of the time reading the Bible and
thinking of the new life God had opened up to her. "I must learn the ways of the
Indians," she told herself. "I must become a Indian, too. Then perhaps they will
listen as I tell them of the true God and His Son."
On the eighth day the Indians were on there way earlier than usual. About
noon, they crossed a river and stopped. They motioned for Catherine to get out
of the hammock, and then they cast it into the forest. She followed them along a
trail that led through the trees, up the side of a mountain. Fifteen minutes
later they broke into a clearing, and Big Bounding Elk gave a long, Shrill
whistle. Instantly, shouts filled the forest, and in a few seconds men, women,
and children surrounded the returning warriors. The braves whooped and yelled
and did a dance before their families and friends.
Catherine shrank into the edge of the clearing, and for several minutes
nobody noticed her. Then a child looked her way and pointed, and screamed. The
villagers fell back at the sight of the white girl, And the forest became
silent. Big Bounding Elk stepped toward Catherine and motioned for her to come
into the clearing. Then all the Indians surrounded her, and everyone began
chattering at once. They touched her dress, and examined her shoes, and passed
their hands over her white skin very lightly, delicately, as though they feared
it would rub off on their fingers. Several of them looked into her eyes and
pointed to the sky. But they seemed most fascinated by her long, golden hair.
The women and girls stroked it with their hands, and ran their fingers through
One of the braves pointed to Catherine's Bible, then spoke to the people. A
hush fell over the group, and Catherine realized that the whole village felt the
same sense of awe in her presence that she had seen in the braves a few days
before. She knelt to the ground again, and raised her arms to heaven with her
Bible in her right hand, and prayed, "Dear Father" she said in a quiet voice,
but load enough that the Indians could hear, "these people already respect Thy
Word and me, Thy Messenger. Help me to honor their trust, and give me some of
them for thy kingdom. Amen." Then she bowed her head and folded her hands over
her breast for a couple of seconds.
The Indians said nothing when she rose. They stood a long time, looking at
her. After a while a few of them began to whisper, Big bounding Elk spoke, and a
girl about Catherine's own age stepped from the circle. Big bounding Elk led her
to Catherine and spoke two words. The girl repeated the words, and stroked
Catherine's long, golden hair. Several times she repeated the words as she
stroked Catherine's hair. Then she smiled and took Catherine's hand, as though
to lead her away. Catherine followed.
The two girls walked up the side of the mountain. A few minutes later
Catherine saw Indian houses among the tall birch and pine trees in the forest.
They were built on poles, about four feet off the ground. Their outsides were
plastered with mud, and some of them had been painted with a white, chalky
The Indian girl led the way up a crude ladder into one of the houses. Around
the inside wall, Catherine saw a low shelf. The girl lat down on the shelf on
one side, then took Catherine to the other side and pointed to the shelf there.
Catherine lay down, and the girl smiled. Catherine decided this must be her
place to sleep, and that the girl was to be her companion. The girl brought
several kernels of parched corn and handed them to Catherine. She seemed pleased
when Catherine ate them.
Catherine quickly learned that the words the Indian girl had spoken that
first day in the forest when she stroked her hair were the words of her Indian
name. She knew that the Indian names always meant something.
The two girls became fast friends. The Indian girl seemed anxious to teach
Catherine the Indian language. She would point to a tree, or a blade of grass,
or a stone, and say a word. Catherine always repeated the word till she had
learned it. After a few days she began picking up snatches of conversation, and
within a few weeks she was able to talk, after a fashion, in the Indian dialect.
The Indians seemed very pleased.
Catherine also learned how the Indian women cooked, how they cured leather,
and how they made their garments. Soon she had made for herself an entire outfit
of Indian clothing, and she put aside forever the dress she had worn when she
was captured. "I wish I had a mirror," she mused to herself one day. "I'd like
to see what a fine looking Indian I really must be!"
Every morning Catherine took her Bible to a quiet spot in the forest to read
and pray. At first the Indians followed her to see where she went. When she had
finished reading, she always knelt, and raised her arms to heaven with her Bible
in her right hand, and prayed to God in her own English language. She begged
god, during her devotions, to bring her back to her family. Sometimes she prayed
in the Indian dialect after she had learned it well enough.
Catherine noticed that the Indians-even Chief Big Bounding Elk-seemed to
have a special respect for her that was different from their respect to any
other leader among the people and in some ways greater. They never disturbed
her in her devotions, and they always whispered quietly among themselves when
Catherine learned that her friends name meant Grey Fawn. She always
responded when her own name was called, but she wondered what it meant. One day
as she returned from her devotions in the forest, she heard a child call her
name. She turned, and was surprised to see that the little boy didn't seem to be
addressing her at all. Instead, he stood pointing into a birch tree overhead.
Curious, Catherine walked over and looked into the branches of a tree.
Perched on a limb halfway up on the tree, she saw a yellow finch trilling a
song. The bird stopped when Catherine approached, and cock his head first one
way, then the other, looking at her with his tiny black eyes. Then it darted
from a branch and flew away. The little Indian boy laughed and clapped his
hands, and spoke Catherine's Indian name again.
"So that's it!" Catherine said to herself as she walked towards her house.
"My name is the same as the yellow finch. It means Golden Bird! It must be
because of my hair."
Several weeks went by. One morning Catherine and Grey Fawn sat in front of
their house pounding Corn into meal on two grinding logs. From a large basket
between them Catherine took kernels of dried corn and dropped them into the
hollow in the center of her log. She crushed the corn with a smaller, rounded
piece of wood that she held in her hand, till the corn had become a fine
powder. Then she emptied the cornmeal into an earthen pot beside the log.
The two girls laughed and chatted for perhaps half an hour. Then Grey Fawn
became silent. Catherine wondered what she was thinking about. "Does Golden
Bird know the Great Spirit?" Grey Fawn said at last.
Catherine's heart leaped, and she took a short, quick breath. "God, help me
to answer Grey Fawn right," she said under her breath. Then she turned to her
friend. "Yes, Golden Bird knows the Great Spirit."
Grey Fawn pondered Catherine's answer a long time. "We see you talk to the
sky each morning in the forest. We think you talk to the Great Spirit. Now I
will tell the people that you do!"
Catherine rose and went to her house. She returned shortly with her Bible
and handed it to Grey Fawn. Grey Fawn's eyes opened wide, and shrank back. "Go
ahead an hold it," Catherine said with a smile. Grey Fawn reached out cautiously
and took the Book.
Catherine helped her open it. "This is a message from the Great Spirit to
Golden Bird," she said. "The Great Spirit has told us all about Himself in this
message." She took the Bible from Grey Fawn's and began to read, translating as
best she could from the English into the Indian language: "The Great Spirit made
the heavens and the earth at the first," she said. "The earth was empty. There
was nothing in it." She read through the entire First chapter of Genesis and
explained to Grey Fawn how God made the world and man.
Grey Fawn pondered what Catherine had read. "There are many spirits," she
"There is one Great Spirit," Catherine replied. "He has a Son and a Helper.
The Great Spirit sends us the sunshine and the rain."
Grey Fawn nodded. " He sends the deer for us to hunt, and the fish for us to
catch for food."
The two girls talked about God most of the morning. The subject did not come
up again for several days, except in occasional comments that Grey Fawn made.
Catherine prayed that God would open the way for her to speak to Grey Fawn again
about the Bible and the true God, and she continued her daily devotional time in
As the months passed by the two girls came to talk very freely about God.
Grey Fawn loved to listed while Catherine read from the Bible and explained what
it meant. One evening, shortly after dusk, Grey Fawn and Golden Bird sat in
front of their house talking about Jesus and his death. They had talked only a
few minutes when they heard footsteps hurrying toward them in the dark. A young
brave ran up to their cabin some what out of breath. "Golden Bird," he panted,
"Chief Big Bounding Elk wants to see you at the council fire tonight. You must
Catherine caught her breath. What does the Chief want with me? she thought.
But she said nothing. She stood, and followed the young man into the darkness.
The moon cast its light in splotches through the trees as Catherine
followed her guide. Light from a fire glowed through the cracks in the council
house as they approached the center of the village. The building was partially
sunk in the ground. The guide led Catherine down an incline, through a door,
into a smoke-filled room.
The Chief and his counselors sat on logs in the far end of the circular
chamber. A fire burned in the center of the room. Beside it, stuck in the
ground, stood a tall pole, near an opening in the center of the roof where the
smoke was supposed to escape.
Catherine's Guide led her to a log near the fire. She sat down facing the
village leaders. Big Bounding Elk rose, arms folded, and gazed at her. He wore a
deerskin coat with beads woven into the breast, and he had a tomahawk pushed
into the girdle about his waist. Catherine saw neither friendliness nor
hostility in his face. After a few seconds he spoke. "Golden Bird, your sister,
Grey Fawn, tells us that you know the Great Spirit. She says He sends you
messages in the black words you brought when you came to the village. Tell us
about the Great Spirit."
Catherine looked through the opening in the roof. Through the smoke she saw
several stars twinkling is the sky. "Dear Father," she breathed "tell me what to
say." Then she turned to Big Bounding Elk. "The Great Spirit has a message for
the Chief and his counselors," she said. "You must treat all men as brothers."
"All men do not treat us as brothers," the Chief replied. "The white man
drives us from our land and gives us nothing in return."
Catherine pondered her reply carefully. "Golden Bird is sorry that her white
brothers do not always treat the Indians like their brothers," she said. "Our
white brothers are wrong. They do not all obey the Great Spirit."
The counselors nodded their heads and
murmured. Catherine noticed the chief's stern face relax a bit. After a moment
he looked at her again. "How many spirits are there?" he asked.
"there are three chief Spirits in the heavens," Catherine said. "The Great
Spirit is our Father. He has a Son and a Partner."
One of the counselors hissed at Catherine, "There are many spirits!"
"Big Bounding Elk's advisor speaks wise words, " Catherine replied. "the
Great Spirit has many other spirits to be His messengers. When the braves go on
the hunt, these spirits help their arrows to find many deer, and they protect
the braves from harm."
Again, the counselors murmured their approval. One of them motioned with
his hand. Big Bounding Elk gave him permission to speak. "There are also evil
spirits that do us harm," he said. "They keep back the rain and they bring
sickness and death to our houses."
"It is true," Catherine said.
"There are many evil spirits. but they were not always evil. Many seasons ago
they were among the beloved spirit messengers who did good. Then the chief of
the messenger spirits turned against the Father Spirit and His Son. Many other
messengers followed him. These are the ones who now do us harm."
The group of men before Catherine turned to one another and began talking
in low tones. After a few minutes, Big Bounding Elk spoke to her again. "The
black Words, the message that the Great Spirit has sent to Golden Bird, is it
full of magic?"
Catherine drew her eyebrows together before she spoke. "The black Words
are especially powerful to make all men treat one another as brothers. They
turn men who kill into men who protect even those who want to destroy them."
"Do they make the Indian help the white man?" one of the counselors asked.
Catherine sensed a note of skepticism in his words, but she nodded "Yes,"
The counselor who had spoken rose to his feet and glared into her eyes. He
spat back his reply. "But they don't make the white man help the Indian!" His
voice was hard, filled with scorn and hate. He whirled and stalked out of the
council room. The other Indians rose and began talking rapidly among
themselves. Big Bounding Elk motioned to Catherine's guide, and he ushered her
out of the room and led the way back to her house.
Grey Fawn had already gone to sleep when Catherine climbed the ladder and
entered the dark room. Catherine prepared quickly for bed. "Dear God," She
prayed when she had laid down, "the Indians don't want to hear about You. I'm a
white woman, an enemy of their race. How can I tell them about You? Won't You
please let me go back to my family and friends? It's hard without them."
Tears streamed down Catherine's face, and for a time she again gave herself
up to despair. Then the text, "He came unto his own, and his own received him
not," passed through mind. She thought of the prejudice Jesus faced on earth.
At least they haven't threatened to kill me, she thought. Forgive me, Lord, for
doubting the power of Your word to change the Indians' hard hearts. Show me how
to teach them, and make my life an example of the words I speak.
In the days that followed, Catherine noticed that the Indians still treated
her with great awe and respect. Especially Big Bounding Elk, who never smiled,
seemed to show more interest in her. Every day he brought food for her and her
sister, Grey Fawn. Sometimes he paused and asked her a few questions before he
went on his way. Once he inquired if she liked her new home in the village. She
smiled and said yes. He grunted and walked on. The way he had asked the question
made Catherine wonder why he asked.
Every day Catherine prayed that God would open the way for her to see her
loved ones someday, soon, She especially wished that there was someone she could
talk to about big Bounding Elk. He was handsome, and attentive in the Indian way
of showing attention. Catherine noticed the other Indian girls casting envious
glances at her when Big Bounding Elk came to her house to bring food. Sometimes
he came just to visit, too, and although he talked as much to Grey Fawn as to
her, Catherine knew that it was not Grey Fawn that he had come to see.
By now Catherine had been in the Indian village two years. She and Grey Fawn
talked about God and the Bible every day. And Big Bounding Elk frequently
invited her to the council house to talk to his counselors about the Great
Spirit and the Black words. Catherine wondered if anything would ever come of
it, though. Most of the counselors responded favorably to her talks, but some
counselors and some of the other villagers opposed her religion strongly, some
bitterly. Big Bounding Elk seemed to sway from one side to the other. Catherine
took courage in the fact that he kept inviting her to talk before the council.
"If only he would take a firm stand for God, I know there are others who would
follow," she kept saying to herself.
One morning when Catherine woke up she thought she heard more activity
outside than usual. Grey Fawn was already moving about the house. "There is to
be a special village council today," Grey Fawn said when she saw that Catherine
Something about the way Grey Fawn spoke made Catherine catch her breath.
Later in the morning as the two girls followed the other villagers through the
trees to the council house, Catherine noticed the Indians casting glances at her
and whispering among themselves. I wonder what's so important about the council
meeting today? she thought.
The council room was packed when Catherine and Grey Fawn entered, but the
Indians around the door pressed aside and made a aisle for the two girls, right
down to the front of the room, before the fire. Catherine's heart beat faster.
She wondered if the Chief had called the whole village together to hear a
message about the Bible. Perhaps he intended to indicate his feelings more
All the villagers murmured when Big Bounding Elk and his counselors entered
the room. They filed to the center and took their places about the fire. Big
Bounding Elk stood up. Catherine noticed that he was dressed in a brand-new
waistcoat. his long, black hair shone with bear grease.
Big Bounding Elk raised his right arm and the crowd hushed. "My people," he
said "we have brought Golden Bird to rest in our village. The white man has many
golden birds, and he will not miss this one. Words of wisdom are in her mouth.
It is good that she has become a sister to Grey Fawn."
Catherine's heart pounded as Big Bounding Elk spoke.
"Big Bounding Elk is alone in his cabin," the chief continued. "He has no
mate. Let Golden bird come to his house and be his mate. Then he shall rule his
people with greater wisdom, and will lead them to better hunting grounds. Golden
Bird will teach us great wisdom from the Black Words. The white man shall be our
brother, and we shall all be one people. The Chief has spoken.
Catherine trembled. Her arms and legs seemed to lose their strength, and her
head felt faint. She felt the eyes of all the Indians on her. For a moment she
turned her face toward the heavens. "Dear God, what shall I say?" she breathed
then she rose to her feet.
Catherine looked at all the people before her, and raised her arms. "My
people-for you are my people-the Great Spirit has sent me to you." Catherine
pointed to heaven as she spoke. "I love you all. Your Chief is good. He will
lead you to good hunting grounds. He will protect you from the enemies of the
The girl continued. "Golden Bird is the Chief's sister, for she is the
sister of Grey Fawn, who is also his sister. Golden Bird would not be happy
living in the house of Big Bounding Elk as his mate, for he is her brother. The
Great Spirit would be very displeased if Golden Bird should become the mate of
her brother. He would take Golden Bird away. Then you would not learn wisdom
from the Black words. So Golden Bird will continue to live with her red sister,
and she will continue to teach her red brothers wisdom from the Great Spirit's
Black Words. Golden Bird has spoke, and her red brothers will hear."
The council room buzzed as Catherine sat down, and she saw nods of approval
everywhere. Big Bounding Elk stood and motioned toward the door. The crowd
parted. Grey Fawn took Catherine's hand, and led the way out into the fresh air
When they returned to their house. Catherine told Grey Fawn that she wanted
to be alone for a while. When Grey Fawn had left, she flung herself on the bunk
and wept and wept. "Oh God!" she cried, "I want a home of my own someday-a
husband and children to love. Why must I be a captive in this strange village,
among these enemies of my people? Why can't I live with my friends back in my
Then the verse, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," passed
through Catherine's mind. She sat up and dried her tears. "And I must be made an
Indian," she whispered. "Forgive me, Lord, for doubting." She knew, though, that
she could not become the Chief's wife, for she would then be subordinate to him,
and her influence with the people would be weakened.
Big Bounding Elk still brought food daily for the two girls after that, but
he seldom stayed to talk more than a few minutes, and he talked mostly to Grey
Fawn when he did. He always treated Catherine with great respect, though, and
more and more he began inviting her to speak about God to his men around the
council fire. She taught them about Jesus, His rejection by His own people, and
of His death for them and for all men. Seldom did she see approving glances
among the men around the council fire, but Grey Fawn told her that some of the
men were being strongly influenced by what she said.
As time went on, Catherine was invited not only to teach the villagers about
God, but also to sit with the counselors as they made plans for the people. On
several occasions, when wars were being planned with a neighboring tribe,
Catherine led the Indians to find a peaceful settlement with their enemies.
"'Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God,'"
she said over and over again.
Months passed by, and Catherine lost track of the time, though she knew when
the years came and went as winter came on and turned to spring again.
One day Catherine noticed little knots of people gathered here and there
about the village. She felt tension in the air, and she knew that something
important was about to happen. But always when she approached a group talking
excitedly the people hushed their talking and dispersed. From the behavior of
the braves, she guessed that a war was being planned. I wonder if they are
preparing to attack a white man's village? she said to herself several times
through the day. She determined to find out.
A small fire burned in a clay pot that evening as Catherine and Grey Fawn
prepared to settle down for the night. Catherine noticed that Grey Fawn was more
restless than usual. She moved rapidly through the cabin, yet her movements
seemed almost pointless at times, and she obviously did not want to look
Catherine in the eye. When Grey Fawn reached to put out the fire for the night,
Catherine reached out and grasped her hand. "My sister has news in her eyes,"
Grey Fawn fixed her eyes on the burning embers and said nothing.
"The warriors are making ready to go," Catherine said. "Around which white
brother's camp will they gather tonight?"
Grey Fawn gasped. "How do you know?" she exclaimed under her breath.
"The Great Spirit has helped Golden Bird to know," Catherine replied. "If
Grey Fawn will tell me, I will keep it a secret."
The Indian girl looked into the fire again before she spoke. "Grey Fawn is
not supposed to tell. The white man sleeps in wagons on the other side of the
mountain." She motioned toward the mountaintop with her hand. "The white man has
come a long way, but he will go no further. The Indians will creep up tonight
and kill. They will get many scalps. They will bring many white children to the
village, and Golden Bird will have white brothers and sister." Grey Fawn pointed
upward. "When the moon is high, they will go," she said.
Catherine swallowed hard, and tightened the knot that had been forming in
her stomach. But she kept a calm look on her face. "Golden Bird is sorry," she
said. She reached for Grey Fawns' hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. "The Great
Spirit will bring peace."
Catherine lay on her bed till she heard Grey Fawn's breathing come slow and
heavy. Then she put her feet on the cabin floor and slipped them into her
moccasins. She took a dark blanket, draped it around her white doeskin garment,
and slipped out of the door and down the steps, into the cool night air. A thick
darkness covered the village. Catherine tiptoed to a bush near the cabin and
crouched beside it.
Toward midnight, the moon rose over the land, casting patches of light onto
the ground through the leaves in the trees. Catherine heard the sound of a owl's
hoot in the center of the village. Then she heard another, and a moment later
another closer by. The leaves rustled in the tail beside her cabin, and a brave
passed by. He was so close she could hear his moccasins pad on the ground.
Again, Catherine heard the owl's hoot, this time from the brave, and she knew
that it was a signal.
When she felt certain that the last of the braves had passed by, Catherine
raised to her feet and made her way in the shadows to the center of the village.
She hid behind another bush, where she could watch the entrance to the council
Light from the fire flickered through the doorway, and a thin column of
smoke shone in the moonlight as it rose from the hole in the roof. Catherine
heard voices, some low, others louder, coming from the building. Ten minutes
later two dozen Indians filed out of the council room and up the trail toward
the top of the mountain. Catherine gathered her dark blanket about her shoulders
and followed quietly after them.
The Indian braves disappeared single file into the forest. Catherine drew
her dark blanket hood-like over the top of her head and plunged through the
trees after them. The moonlight shone in patches on the forest floor. The chill
night air closed in about them, and Catherine was glad, for the warmth that her
She peered into the darkness, trying to let the Indians stay as far ahead of
her as possible, but not so far that she would lose them. Most of the time she
was able to see the shadows of the last few braves among the trees. Frequently a
large patch of moonlight broke across the trail, giving her a clear view. Big
Bounding Elk, the Chief in the lead, gave an occasional owl's hoot, and the
Indian bringing up the rear always hooted back. This, and the cracking of a twig
under the Indians' feet now and then, helped her to keep up without being
When the moon disappeared behind a cloud, Catherine found it almost
impossible to see. "Dear God," she prayed, "guide my steps so I don't lose my
way." Sometimes she felt that Someone else walked beside her, in answer to her
prayer, showing her where to go.
An hour passed, and Catherine began to feel the strain of the continual
climb, for she was following men who were much more used to long hikes than she.
She prayed for strength to keep up.
A few minutes later the trail emerged from the trees and wound along the
wall of a cliff. The mountain fell off at a steep angle below. After a short
distance the trail veered sharply upward and to the right, between two massive
boulders, and broke onto the mountain's crest.
Catherine gasped as she gazed across the wide plain below. Patches of mist
hung here and there over the valley, shimmering in the full light of the moon.
And in the distance she saw several specks of orange light in a cluster. "The
fires of the pioneers!" se said under her breath. Her heart leaped within her,
for she realized that this night, for the first time in many years, she would
see white people again, the people of her own race. "Dear god," she breathed,
"is this to be the night of my deliverance from captivity?"
So entranced was Catherine with the sight on the plain that she momentarily
forgot the Indians she was following. The sound of a owl's hoot in the forest
below brought her back to reality. She drew the dark blanket closer over the top
of her head and hurried after them. The downward trail was much easier to
follow, and much swifter. The Indians trotted most of the way. Half an hour
later the forest stopped abruptly at the foot of the mountain. The plain
descended in a gentle slope ahead.
The fires of the pioneers burned almost on a level with the eye now, perhaps
half a mile ahead. Catherine's heart pounded and her mouth went dry. White
people! People who could understand her language, who could laugh when she
laughed and cry when she cried!
But those very white people whom she longed to join were about to be
massacred and scalped. O God, she cried out in her heart, why can't the white
people and the Indians live together like brothers in the same land? Why cannot
they stop being enemies, stop this revenge, this killing, and be friends?
For an instant all of her efforts of the past few years to teach the
Indians to love the white man, passed through Catherine's mind. She knew the
injustice of the white man to the Indian. She knew that as often as not he
deserved the retaliation he got. But she knew, also, that the power of God could
work in the heart of the Indian to help him forgive. She knew that life's
greatest lessons are born out of crisis, and she determined that this night,
with God's help, her mission to the Indians would be fulfilled.
The braves had huddled together when they reached the plain, and Catherine
could hear their low voices as they planned the attack. Now they split, one
group creeping off to the right, the other to the left. Catherine waited till
she could no longer hear the tall grass rustle under their feet. Then she drew
the blanket over her head, crouched low over the plain, and sped straight for
the fires ahead.
She heard the hoot of an owl to her left. An answering hoot came from the
right. Catherine raced forward, keeping up with the signals on either side. Now
she could make out the shapes of the wagons surrounding the fires. A dog barked
in the camp, and a gruff voice said, "Shut Up!" A man in a red shirt held a
rifle across his shoulder with one hand and stirred the fire with the other.
Sparks mingled with the smoke and drifted toward the sky.
Catherine crept up to the nearest wagon and rested against it's wheel. The
man put his rifle aside and threw a pile of sticks into the flames. The embers
crackled, and a shower of sparks scattered about the fire. the flames leaped
higher for a few seconds, then settled back down again.
Catherine heard a cricket chirping beside her. A breeze rustled the leaves.
The owl hoots from the left and the right came closer and closer to the camp.
The dog tensed, pointed its ears toward the hoots on the left, and growled.
Catherine took a deep breath and for an instant she closed her eyes. "God don't
let it happen!" she breathed.
A terrible cry pierced the air. The man at the fire leaped for his gun and
fired a wild shot into the sky. Two dozen white men burst from the hoods over
the wagons with rifles in their hands. An arrow hit the side of the wagon where
Catherine stood, and a woman shrieked inside. Another arrow flew into the fire
and sent a shower of sparks into the air. The war-painted Indians beat their
breasts and screamed and rushed into the camp.
Catherine covered her whole body with her blanket. She leaped over the
tongue of the wagon and raced toward the fire. An arrow flew over her head. A
rifle butt grazed her head. She realized that neither the Indians nor the White
men knew who she was. She dashed up to the fire, flung the dark mantle from her
shoulders, and leaped high into the air. The light from the fire glowed on her
golden hair and her white doeskin garments, and as she fell to the earth she
appeared almost as an apparition, like a spirit descended from heaven.
Catherine held her Bible high in the air and shouted, "No!" The command of
her voice rang through the camp. Instantly, the noise of battle ceased. The
White man stood petrified with fear. The astonished Indians dropped their
weapons and gazed upon this being that seemed to have dropped from the sky. She
was beautiful. Fearlessness and power flashed from her eyes.
"The Great Spirit says, No!" Catherine said in the Indian tongue. "The red
man and the White man are brothers. The Great God has sent me to tell you that
you must not kill. Blood must not flow between the red brother and his White
brother. They shall be friends." Again, she pointed toward the heavens. "The
Great Spirit commands!"
The confused braves clustered about their chief. Big Bounding Elk stood
before Catherine with his head bowed. When he looked up, she fixed her eyes on
his. Then she slowly raised one arm and pointed back toward the mountain.
"Go!' she commanded in a low voice. "The Great Spirit will guide you. Big
Bounding Elk will lead his braves back to the village. The White Man will stay
here in safety."
Big Bounding Elk said not a word, and he made no move to leave. His bow and
arrows hung loosely from his hands, and he searched Catherine's face. Neither of
them spoke. The white men stood speechless, terrified still, and dumbfounded by
the drama that unfolded before them.
The battle in the camp was at a standstill, but a battle raged till in
Catherine's heart. She looked at the white men who stood before her, and at the
women and children who cringed in the shadows of the wagons . A longing rose up
within her once more to live among the people she had known from her birth.
She turned and looked at the Indians to whom she had dedicated her life,
among whom God had placed her to live, and whom she had grown to love. Big
Bounding Elk still stood gazing at her.
Catherine caught her breath, then raised her arm and pointed again toward
the mountain. "Go," she said quietly, "and Golden Bird will follow. Her home
will be in the village with her red brothers."
Big Bounding Elk stood straight and tall. He dropped his weapons and folded
his arms over his breast. His expression softened, and Catherine saw a smile on
his face for the first time. The Chief turned to his braves. He spoke one word
to them quietly, and they slipped out of the camp toward the mountain. Big
Bounding Elk looked back at Catherine. She answered his smile with one of her
The white setters now began to regain their composure. The man in the red
shirt, the guard that Catherine had seen tending the fire, spoke up. "Are you a
captive, miss?" he asked.
Catherine looked at him before she replied. "Not a captive now," she said,
"but an honored friend and counselor, a member of this Indian tribe. It is by
choice that I am God's messenger to our red brothers. They need me. I go of the
true God, the Great Spirit who teaches all men to be brothers.
"You may rest in peace here tonight, and continue on your journey tomorrow.
May the loving Father ever watch over you. In return for the service I have
rendered to you tonight, I ask only that you show kindness to the red brothers
whom you meet. They always remember a kindness. We who know of God's goodness
should make known his loving kindness to these, our brothers, who know him not."
Catherine gathered up the blanket she had dropped to the ground. She raised
herself to her full height, and gazed once more upon the white people whose
lives she had spared, to whom she had once longed to return. "Good night," she
said, and she passed through their midst, into the darkness outside the camp.
Big Bounding Elk followed.
The two walked together across the prairie towards the mountain. There feet
rustled in the grass. The crickets ahead stopped chirping as they approached. An
owl's hoot sounded in the distance, but big Bounding Elk did not reply. He
grasped her arm instead, and stopped, and turned her toward him. He gazed into
her eyes before he spoke. "Big Bounding Elk has found new brothers tonight," he
said. "In my village, the white man and the red man are one, as the Great Spirit
Golden Bird's eyes filled with tears, and she bowed her head. "Thank You,
God," She whispered. Then she looked back up at the chief. "Come," she said "we
must find our red brothers and return to our village on the other side of the
Many years later, Catherine Hauser
with several Christian Indian guides, visited her childhood home. Her parents
were overjoyed to see their daughter, even though in her Indian attire she
looked much different than she had the day she was taken from them.
Catherine told them of her success in Christianizing the Indians in the
tribe where she lived, and how many of these had carried the gospel to other
tribes. And though it grieved their hearts, she returned to the Indians, among
whom God had appointed her lifework. However, in the years that followed she
visited her home may times.
This story was written by
Marvin Moore and was originally printed in the Guide magazine for children in
the month of November 1977. We thought this was a great story with a great
moral to it. Really shows what Jesus has given to us in becoming one of us.
If you liked this story you would like to read the following books:
Swift Arrow by Josephine Cunnington Edwards
Indian Captive by Lois Lenski
Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare
Indian Drums and Broken Arrows
LaCelle Family Ministries - 9199 Howd Rd, Camden, NY 13316
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