The Chief Pt. 02 Ch. 02byamicus©
Sahjeed Deeda noticed there were more guards but he did not mention it. Each first light, as had his father, the Chief walked the loosely fenced perimeter of his village. He observed the condition of the structures, the pathways through the village and the cleanliness throughout. If he paused at something he didn't like, it was fixed before the next first light.
There was considerable activity around the compound where the commune had been. Sahjeed watched and spoke with several people as they sought out their belongings. He then announced himself at an Elders lodge.
A stocky man with mostly gray hair squinted his eyes and moved closer. "Ah, Chief, what can I do for you?"
"You manage the lands of the People in the village?"
"Yes, yes and quite a mess, what with that fracas. It will take several suns just to sort it all out. Oh my, yes, all confused."
Sahjeed gave the man an icy stare, "By mid-sun, each family will have land to live on. Before the dark arrives, they will have a place to stay. Get more help if you need it." He turned and walked away.
The Chief stopped next at the First Builder of the village. The man listened carefully as Sahjeed explained, "It may be that the compound should be torn down or kept and used as something else. There might be the need for several lodges to be built quickly. See me for anything you need."
The man nodded and watched as Sahjeed walked away.
The next stop was at the largest and best-kept lodge in the village after the Chief's. Although it was early, people were coming and going carrying various objects.
Sahjeed was met as he went up the steps.
The man smiled and bowed slightly, "Chief Sahjeed Deeda, it is a pleasure to see you. Please come in. I have a new tea you should try, very good. Please."
Sahjeed followed him into the lodge, through a busy front area and into a heavily decorated room with a large fireplace. Two young attractive girls smiled, arranged a chair and stood quietly by.
"Trader Domohaas, you live well and have lovely daughters."
"Thank you, my Chief. Shall they bring tea and perhaps a small repast?"
"Yes, thank you."
"A very sad and tragic affair of last sun. But it is for the better I think," said Domohaas.
"How so, trader?"
Domohaas looked uneasy for the first time, "My Chief, I trade things, buy and sell things, items that People want and need. I have done this for many, many seasons. The people come back time and again because they know I always give good measure for what I receive. I do not cheat, I do not steal, I do not give bad for good, nor take bad for good.
"For my service, I take a small part of each trade. Much of that, I invest in things that people will need, but perhaps not at the moment. The People trust that I will be fair and give good measure and this I do."
Sahjeed had been waiting for an answer, "Yes, I understand, you are trusted and liked, Domohaas, but there is more?"
The rotund man adjusted himself in the chair, smiled and waved his hand as the girls brought tea.
When they left, he leaned forward. "Some of those of the compound took without giving in return. They threatened to burn my lodge. They warned me not to complain. I cringed each time they came and learned not to speak as they took what they wanted." He took a quick furtive sip of tea.
Ahjeed Deeda straightened as Domohaas spoke, "I am shamed to admit that I knew nothing of this, Trader. Are there goods of yours that might be still in the compound? I would have them returned."
The Trader smiled and sat back in his chair, "I did not think you were aware, my Chief, I am glad to know that. I would be pleased to donate whatever remains in the compound to those who must begin anew. I would also help by making things available until they can properly trade."
Sahjeed Deeda smiled, "You foresee my mission, Domohaas, yes, some will need help. I have made arrangements for new land and lodges to be available as quickly as possible."
"Good, good," said the Trader, "They will need many things. Ah, my Chief, I perhaps take advantage, but I regret to add that many of the Seers also take without giving. I would never hesitate to provide food, but they take many valuable things, things that people work very hard to make. I must make up the loss by giving of my own. It troubles me but I have found it difficult to speak to the Elders or to you. If I offend...?"
Sahjeed smiled grimly, "Trader, you offend only in that you did not tell me sooner. I hesitate to ask if there is more I should know?"
"The Seers also use young women; my daughter came to me in fear. I threatened, he backed off, but he did not apologize."
The Chief rose, red faced and tight lipped, "I will see to this as well, Trader. Thank you for your hospitality, the tea is excellent; I must leave before I display bad manners."
Duulaat and the Guards followed Sahjeed Deeda at a quick pace as he left the village and walked halfway to the next before turning back.
He shared what he had learned with the First Guard.
"Did you know of these things, Duulaat? Do others know?"
The First Guard considered his words before speaking, "Many knew of those in the commune, my Chief; few about the Seers, People are leery of those who talk with the Spirits."
Sahjeed came to a stop. "So I am the last to know.... Duulaat, I find a bad taste in my mouth when I speak with some of those I consult for information about the People of the village. Do they serve the People well? Are they honest?"
"No my Chief, they are slow and uncaring, one must offer much more than one should for any service or it does not get done. I am sorry, my Chief."
Chief Sahjeed Deeda went quiet for a long while, breathing in and out regularly, fingering pinches of dirt and pine needles, and drawing circles within circles.
"First Guard, was it not just last sun that you spoke of how the People were happy, how they loved the village and their lives here? I know you said those things. They do not match with what has happened and what I have learned. Can you explain that?"
"My Chief, we are not perfect. Our village is not perfect. But, if you do not know, take my word; it is the best of them all. Perhaps we should try to be better, but that is not for me to understand."
Sahjeed Deeda, Chief of his People, walked the village at dawn as his father before him. He caught a glimpse, as he often did, of the girl who had bandaged his arm. She never came close, staying hidden in the brush and behind trees. He saw her only when he looked for a long time.
He left instructions for Domohaas the Trader to oversee the distribution of goods left in the commune's compound. He saw that all who had lived in the compound were re-settled; only one lodge was left on the original plot of land. Some of the homes had been moved to other sites, others were torn down and the material re-used in other dwellings.
Sahjeed had sat with each of the men who managed the details of village life and learned what they did. He did not criticize but asked how the fields were divided and the berry patches and wood lots were assigned.
He did not show that same patience or understanding with Saybaahnd, the village Seer and his apprentices. The cynical old man quavered under Sahjeed's curses and paled under the orders for the Seers to live outside the village and provide for themselves. The Chief placed each of the Holy men under three times the service given by the others, to make amends for what they had taken. Sahjeed Deeda gave an order of silence to the Seers, an order that if broken, would result in the death of those who had taken women.
Duulaat, the First Guard, drove himself and the Guards relentlessly after the attack. Sahjeed watched as he belittled those who had grown heavy around the waist. He ran them until they collapsed and had them fight mock battles leaving welts and bruises. Salahbaand, the young brother left behind, did not run and seemed to delight in the hard physical training of the Guards.
Sahjeed Deeda thought about the young couple as he watched the boy train and later in the day, shivered at the coincidence of the arrival of a runner with news of Alahbaand and Laawaleeah. They had settled in well and were happy. Sahjeed sought out the young boy and told him of his brother.
It became a regular daily habit to have tea with Domohaas the Trader. They talked of many things, Sahjeed found him to be knowledgeable about all the different occupations of the villagers. Domohaas was also a valuable source of information about the families, who could be trusted and who not.
Sahjeed smiled as the Trader plied him with different foods and drinks and creations of the People.
"This is the true center of the village," Sahjeed mused one day while sipping a mint and berry tea. "I had always thought that most things began at the Chief's lodge. It does not surprise me now to understand why I am usually the last to know of things that go on."
Domohaas laughed heartily, "It is the day to day things that pass though my doors, Sahjeed Deeda, it is the life of the People. They come to trade what they have for what they need. They come to hear of old friends and learn new things. I can think of no other thing I would rather do."
Domohaas looked hard at Sahjeed, he swung his arm and pointed around the room. "None of this would be possible without a, well... a framework, like the inner walls of a lodge. I have long thought about why our village is different and better than all the others. Much of what we do started long ago. We carry on the dreams and the visions of those who first built this village, who gave it direction.
"I do as my father did, and his father. My family name does not go back as far as does yours, my Chief, but Domohaas has been the name of the Trader for more seasons that the Seers can chant. As I carry on, so do you; you keep that framework of our People in place so we can live and trade and carry on in peace."
Domohaas signaled for his daughters to freshen their drinks. He watched as they fawned over the Chief.
"Sahjeed Deeda, I worry about you."
Sahjeed raised his eyebrows.
Domohaas threw his hands up before him. "You don't know, do you? I have daughters that half the young men in this village follow every time they leave my lodge. They have learned your habits, your likes, your dislikes; they smile, they bend, they touch, they rub against you and you never notice!"
Sahjeed Deeda turned red and shrugged his shoulders, "It is true, I have not seen what you say. I look forward to my visits here. I learn from you Trader, I do not come here to play games with your daughters, lovely though they are."
Domohaas rose quickly, shaking his hands before him, "Oh, my Chief, I meant no offense. In my way I was trying to say that I have those who will carry on my name and my work and I worry that you will leave no one and you are much more important. Please, I meant only that."
Sahjeed studied the Traders face and then smiled, "I understand. I do not think of that often, but I have, more and more since the attack. I cannot explain, but I look upon the women of the village as my children. I never see them any other way. I sometimes wish I could." Sahjeed Deeda offered his hand, "Thank you once again, you are a generous man, ah, with pretty daughters."