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Flash: The Bear and the Blood Hand

by Dreamer 

Posted: 22 February 2010
Word Count: 749
Summary: My entry for Prosp's challenge. Takes place at the Anse au Foulon, a few days before Wolfe's men scale the cliffs to change history.

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A short way from the path the trees open onto a clearing where a shaft of golden light pierces the canopy of crimson-tipped leaves. Orenda stands in the centre, a vision of beauty. She sings no song but draws me on as effectively as the sirens drew Odysseus.
She holds out her arms and her hands squeeze my fingers as she holds me at arms length. Her skin is warm and soft. “I am grateful for what you have done for Shodhenawat.”
I start to turn away. Orenda places a hand lightly on my arm, staying me. “You have given him back his honour. He feels he has nothing to offer you in return.” She looks at the ground. “I too have little to give… But what I have,” she raises her head and her dark eyes lock onto mine, “I would gladly give to you.”
She releases me and turns to face the river. “Shodhenawat does not know that I come to you. He says that we do not understand your ways and I should stay away. But we have a debt that must be repaid. You have restored the honour to a warrior. What is that of a maiden in return?” She turns and looks up at me, her hands finding mine. “In my heart I know that Shodhenawat will not be displeased.”
We stand in silence for a long moment then, slowly, she releases my hands and steps to a large log in the centre of the clearing.
She sets an otter-skin bag on the log and withdraws a clay pot of red vermillion. Reaching back into the bag, she pulls out a small blue stone and sets it on the log. The polished stone shines in the light. Carved in the likeness of a bear, a leather thong passes through a hole in its belly.
Orenda slides the sling off my shoulder and leans my fusil against a tree then steps close, unbuttoning my justaucorps. I reach out to stop her but she brushes my hand aside, stepping behind me, and pulling off my justaucorps, dropping it on the ground. Her hands brush my back as she undoes my cravat then flow around me, like the waters of a stream around a rock. She unbuttons the cuffs of my chemise then unties its leather thong at my neck. Slowly, she pulls the chemise over my head, and drops it along with the cravat.
Orenda picks up the stone charm and signals for me to lower my head. Her breath is hot on my skin as she presses close to tie the ends of the leather thong behind my neck. Her touch, like that of a feather, lingers, then, slides slowly across my neck and down my shoulders as she bends to the log to retrieve the pot. With her finger, she traces three red, wavy, lines across my white chest.
Stepping back, she pours the rest of the paint onto the palm of her hand then throws the clay pot on the ground, smashing it. She holds up her hand dripping in paint and smiles. “The left hand is closest to the heart.”
Reaching out with her free hand, she grasps my left arm and presses her paint-covered hand into mine. Our palms slide against one another, the paint oozing between our entwined fingers.
The red paint binds us, like blood, joining heart to mind. Slowly, she spreads her fingers, pulling her hand free of mine and placing it over my heart. With her free hand, she presses my hand over her chest. For a long moment we stand facing each other, neither of us speaking. Her heart beats strong beneath my palm while mine races, feeling as if it has climbed to my throat.
Orenda steps back, surveying the image on my chest then runs a finger down the side of the bear charm. “Now you will be safe in battle. Together, the bear totem and blood hand will deflect blade and ball from your flesh.”
I look down at the handprint on my chest and turn the bear totem over in my hand, lost in thought. When I look up, Orenda and her bag are gone, and I am left, confused, and alone in the clearing, standing bare-chested next to a pile of clothes.
I shudder, but not from cold, as the thought races through my mind. What will Shodhenawat do when he sees my handprint on the front of his wife’s dress?

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Comments by other Members

Prospero at 07:32 on 23 February 2010  Report this post
Very fine, Brian, very fine. A beautiful piece of writing. However to qualify for the Challenge White and Blue need to be mentioned as well as red. Was the Justacorp blue and the chemise white?

Well done on the word count by the way.



Dreamer at 10:38 on 23 February 2010  Report this post
Hi John,

Very pleased that you like it. Coincidentally, the justaucorp is blue and the chemise is white. I will have to fiddle with it to fit the criteria.

A little background might interest you.

Shodhenawat was captured by the nasty British and held on one of their ships for 11 days. While he was missing, and presumed dead, Gontier comforted Orenda, Shodhenawat's grieving wife, and felt conflicted because part of him was glad that Shodhenawat was dead.

When Shodhenawat escapes and returns, Gontier is upset while watching Orenda's joy and leaves the celebratory feast. As an excuse, he says he must report what Shodhenawat had seen in the British camp to Montcalm.

Montcalm is very grateful for the information, and upon hearing how Shodhenawat escaped by diving over the side of the ship, writes out a requisition for new equipment, including a blanket mocassins and a rifle for Shodhenawat.

Gontier brings Shodhenawat the equipment and feels even worse at his friends gratitude. Shodhenawat feels ashamed that his friend looked after his honour with the little general while he, Shodhenawat, took pleasure in feasting. Gontier knows his true motives for leaving the feast and Shodhenawat's and Orenda's gratitude only make Gontoer's feelings of guilt worse.

Through a series of circumstances that I won't go into, Gontier is posted to the Anse au Foulon where, in a few days, Wolfe and his men will be scaling to the Heights of Abraham to fight a battle that changed the fate of the world.

Gontier seems to have a knack for getting himself right in the middle of things. He really should look for a better manager.

Thanks for your continued interest.



Dreamer at 10:47 on 23 February 2010  Report this post
Red and blue have been added.


crowspark at 12:55 on 23 February 2010  Report this post
This is excellent Brian!
You have restored the honour to a warrior. What is that of a maiden in return?

The answer (what is the price of a maiden's honour worth)is as plain as the buttons on his justaucorp.
Body painting ;
But seriously good.

Thanks for the read.

Dreamer at 14:13 on 23 February 2010  Report this post
Thank you Bill!
Top of the Xmas card list for you.
Glad you liked it, the chapters have been coming slowly lately.
Getting to the end though.
Gontier has just recently learnt that Orenda is Shodhenawat's sister.
Trouble is, Wolfe is about to land before he can do anything about it.
I am just now starting the quinessential chapter on the battle on the Plains of Abraham.


Bunbry at 08:54 on 24 February 2010  Report this post
Hi Brian, classy stuff here, really well done.

There are two little bits that jarred with me

Her breath is hot on my skin

This felt like a cliche and more suited to a 'bodice ripper' than your fine work.

And in the middle bit you use the word 'paint' five times in quick succession. Might be worth a second look.

But cracking work!


tusker at 15:20 on 24 February 2010  Report this post
A wonderful story Brian.

I really enjoyed it and the atmosphere you created.

At first, I thought they were going to have it away on that log and thought, how interesting if not uncomfortable. What a dirty mind I've got.


Dreamer at 20:41 on 24 February 2010  Report this post
Hi Nick,

Thank you for the positive comments and especially the picks, I will have a look at them.



Dreamer at 20:42 on 24 February 2010  Report this post
Hi Jennifer,

Thank you. That is sort of what poor Gontier was thinking too, except for the uncomfortable part...

Glad you liked it.



V`yonne at 13:31 on 27 February 2010  Report this post
Agh the poor fella must ahve had to adjust his cordwqangle after that. Very nicely done

Laurence at 21:08 on 27 February 2010  Report this post
An excellent crafted story. I was riveted from start to finish. Loved the extra info in the responses.


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