The Chief Pt. 02 Ch. 06byamicus©
The People gathered in the slightly sloping field below the Chief's lodge. Guards were positioned in front of him. Each person had been checked for weapons before they came onto the field.
Sahjeed Deeda watched from the deck of his lodge, waiting until people stopped coming.
He was surprised to hear the cheering and shouting as he approached and stepped up on the small speaking platform. Quiet slowly descended over the meadow.
"Some say you are tired of seeing me walk past your lodges as the sun rises."
Loud laughter and cheers broke out and continued for a moment.
The Chief smiled and raised his arms. "I have been proud to be the leader of this village. We are a good People, but some things that have gone on in this village trouble me. I cannot understand how such things could happen to families, to Elders, to children and to young men and women.
"I thought I understood you as you go about the details of living day by day. I did not expect to find the anger from those of the commune that is no more.
"I was more than surprised to find that those I trusted to manage the affairs of the village failed to serve the People as they should have.
"I have searched my mind to find where I had failed to protect the People of this village. I found few answers and questioned that I should continue to lead this village."
A tense stillness had come over the People as they began to realize that matters affecting everyone were at hand.
"First Guard of this village, Duulaat Deeda, whose family has served as First Guard since the time of Omaat, First Guard to Ahjeed, my long ago ancestor, spoke words that I shall never forget.
"He said, 'My Chief, we are a good People, but we are not perfect.' I thought, at the time, that he was trying to make me feel better about my failings. He said more than he knew, more than he knows yet.
"You know that all the Chiefs of all the People met last sun. You do not know that the First Chief of all the People, Chief Beedawat, shared with me his great fear that the People, as we know them, may soon be no more."
A hush fell over the crowd as all eyes strained to see Sahjeed's face.
"Once there were many hands of villages, now there are only two hands. Within the last moon, two whole villages have left the People. Our village here is the largest by far of all the villages of the People. We grow almost sun-to-sun as People from other villages seek a better life.
"We have had problems here, but from what I heard last sun, those from other villages would rather live here than anywhere else.
"There are great changes in the wind. I do not know where those changes will lead us. I will guarantee you these things: What we do, we will do together, those who Guard the village will protect it both suntime and darktime.
"I will soon name new people to serve the needs of the People. I will find other Far See-ers who will not betray the trust of the People. I feel that we must increase the number of Guards, I ask you to offer your services if you think you or your sons can learn to protect.
"I, your Chief, call upon you to do your best work and if you have time and ability, offer your services, I need your help and your understanding.
"I ask you not to take fear from this meeting; rather a renewal of purpose, a dedication to the values that we as a People have always had. I have spoken."
"Trader, I come to you because I can find no one to bring me ideas outside my own head." Sahjeed was frustrated and apologetic.
"I am honored that you see me that way, my Chief. I am torn between my business, which requires more time than I have, and my sincere desire to serve the People above my trading. But, Sahjeed, do you understand that in my trading, I serve the People as well?
"People arrive from other villages with what they can carry. I help them get started on the promise that they will return the value when they are able. I am about to reach a point where I can give no more and yet they keep coming."
Sahjeed smiled as one of Domohaas's daughters came into the inner room with a tray of drinks and food. When she left, Sahjeed watched her.
"I envy the way they care for you, Trader. Enjoy them while you may."
"Before you take them away?" Teased Domohaas.
Sahjeed chuckled, "Probably not, Domohaas, but I have become accustomed to their presence when I visit. How does Rahseeta do in her learning of your ways?"
"The best student I have ever had! Better even than you, my Chief, she is focused on nothing else and begins to challenge my understanding. She says that Duulaat learns as she does but I do not see him. My daughters do not trust her, but they are women, ah, Sahjeed... she asks much of what you do and say."
"We were young together, we share many memories. Have you found someone to keep records of the lands of the People for me?"
"In a word, no. In another word, yes; my son is going through all the records and will have a complete picture when I do find someone. You know I share your frustration in the lack of those who would serve but cannot. Are there so few that can think?"
"I come to you for answers, Trader, not questions. Perhaps we look in the wrong places, what of the young? Those who can still learn?" Asked Sahjeed.
"Maybe, but they learn their father's skills and have no time for what we do," said Domohaas.
"I must leave," said Sahjeed, "Those who go to the village across the river will leave at first light. I send two guards and some of those who were given trail duty from the commune.
"Trader, before I go, I want you to think on something. The land rights given to the men of the village that can be passed on to their sons; can I give other land in such a way? That it may be cared for and benefit those who are given rights and no others?"
Domohaas stared at Sahjeed for a long moment, "My Chief, you can give land to whom you choose and the People will obey. But if I understand your thoughts, you want a standard that applies to all.
"The land is there. Who can claim it or what it bears. I, ah, oh, I see, that is a sticky questions is it not? I will give it some thought."
Sahjeed looked and listened as an excited group of men, young and old, talked and joked and jousted each other about. Duulaat looked angry and frustrated.
"They seem to think a rogue bear or a pack of wolves is of no concern, my Chief. They are anxious to leave but I have doubts that their thinking is right. The hide boats are ready, it is only a sun's journey to the village, they should return in less than a hand of suns."
"Send them off, First Guard, I hope it will be good training for them."
"Yes, my Chief."
Alahbaand held back, but Laawaleeah ran down the steps of the Chief's lodge, jumped into Sahjeed's arms and buried her face in his neck. Sahjeed laughed and swung her around and reached for the boy's hand.
"It is good to see you! You make me feel like a father. I am pleased that you are so happy. Come, let us eat and drink and you can tell me of all that has happened."
It was mostly happy talk of their life together and the friends they had made. 'Leeah bubbled over her new lodge and the furnishings and the first place of her own.
"Galawaand is worried, he has doubled the guards and has them training hard. He has runners that bring messages from other villages, they seldom bring good news," said Alahbaand.
Sahjeed smiled as he watched them touch shoulders and hips and gaze into each other's eyes.
"The room you had before is ready for you. This dark you have no responsibilities and there will be guards waiting to take you back whenever you wish. Pay your regards to my mother before you leave and, ah, I don't know how to say how pleased I am that you are happy and have come to visit me. I hope that soon we can share the same village."
Sahjeed and his mother stood on the deck and waved as the young couple skipped down the steps and hurried to join the guards that would take them back to their village.
"I am tired, my son," said Sahjeed's mother as she held on to his arm. "Can you find a mid-day meal for yourself, I think I will rest. So much has been happening. I would like to be still and think of old things this sun."
Sahjeed smiled and gently placed his hand on her cheek. "It has not been an easy life, as mate to a Chief and mother to another. I will have someone bring you something at mid-sun if you wish."
"I just need to rest."