The Woman Called Heartsong




    Long ago, in a land called Eden , a place protected by a tribe of Cherokee Indians, there lived a woman people called "Heartsong."

A group of  Indians, led by Chief Joseph Eagle, while out hunting for food one day,  heard  a howling sound, "AROOOOOOOOOOOO" that sounded more like a child pretending to be a wolf than it did a gray-wolf.

The Cherokee Indians did not hunt wolves because they believed a slain wolves’ brothers would exact revenge. And the weapon used to kill a wolf would not work right again.

As the Indian braves continued their search for food, the howling begin, again. "aroooooooooo"

This time there was no doubt that the soft howling was that of a child's.

"Find the child!" Chief Eagle commanded his braves.

 Where there are wolves, there are often ravens called “wolf-birds” who often follow wolves to grab leftovers from the hunt—and to tease the wolves.

They  would play with the wolves by diving at them and then fly away or they will peck wolves  tails to get the wolves to chase them.

Chief Eagle was counting on  the wolves chasing the ravens. That would give his braves time to grab the child and return.

The wise chief knew that a wolf can smell humans and other animals more than one mile away. He cautioned his braves not to under estimate the wolf's cunning ability to trap his prey.

A few hours later the braves returned with a little girl.

"Why do you have her tied like an animal! What happened to you!? You look like you've been in a fight with a wolf."

"We waited for the wolves to chase the ravens. Then I reached out to pick the child up, and she started making a sound like a wolf, and attacked us. Before we could get her tied, she bit, kicked and scratched me... It was the strangest thing I have ever seen. She didn't want us to take her from the den."

Chief Eagle  turned his head to take a closer look at the child. Her black hair was long and knotty. She was filthy. Her clothes barely fit her. And her green eyes glared at him, as she struggled to free her feet and hands.

There was a story, a few years earlier, about a pack of grey wolves stealing a sleeping child  but he had thought it was just a made up story, that someone got started to make sure the children didn't wander to far from the village.


Suddenly, a pack of wolves could be heard howling, in the direction the braves had came from. "I think we should get back to the village now." Chief  Joseph Eagle told his braves. "Those wolves don't sound to happy."

The child was still struggling to get free, as the braves watched in amazement.

"Gather up everything. Something is up. The grays are sounding stranger by the minute." the chief said, trying not to sound worried.

The child stopped struggling and set dead still as if she knew something that the Chief and braves didn't.


The chief grabbed his pack and removed a colorful piece of cloth.

"Hold her still! If she howls again the wolves will be on us in no time!" he said placing the folded cloth over the struggling girls mouth.

As a young brave, Chief Joseph Eagle father taught him about wolves and wolf packs. He knew that individual wolves in a pack played different roles. The parent wolves lead the pack and the oldest male and female wolves, having more experience, did the hunting, and defended the territory.


Listening to the howling, Joseph Eagle estimated the size of this pack to be six. "And they are all headed straight at us." he said to himself, hoping the braves didn't see the well founded concern on his face.

Just as the village came into sight, the wolves attacked. To Chief Joseph Eagle's surprise it was two lone wolves who seemed determined to free the gagged child . 

To the  Indians surprise the two wolves stopped attacking them and walked toward the child.


"Un-gag the child!" Joseph Eagle said, motioning to the two braves who had been guarding her.


The child and the wolves were talking to each other. The wolves were no longer trying to free the tied up child. Instead, they appeared to be sadly telling her good-bye, as they slowly left the girl side and ran off in the same direction they had come from.

As the band of Indians entered the outskirts of the Cherokee village, Joseph Eagle motioned to the two warriors carrying the child to take her to the river bank.

"She needs a good washing. Untie her feet but not her hands. Tie a rope around her waist and put her in the water."

"AWOOOOOO!!" the child howled, as if she was afraid of the water.

Joseph Eagle dropped the bundle he was carrying, and walked out into the water. He knew her fear. He too had a fear of water, as a young child. As the Indians watched, Joseph Eagle took a deep breath and dropped out of sight in the water. A few second later resurfacing he was standing next to the little girl. Reaching down with his hand, he brought out his prized skinning knife and leaned down to cut the child's hands free.

"I sure hope this water gets the grim off you," Joseph said laughing at the child who was watching him with a strange look on her face.


The sounds coming from the girl was "wolf talk." Sounds he had never heard before.

"Joseph " the chief said, patting his self on the chest. To his amazement the child replied, "joooooo."  That's close enough, for now, he thought to himself, looking down into the green eyes that were staring up at him.

"You are a heart toucher, little one," he said smiling down at her and taking her by the hand. "But what are we going to do with you?"

"She can stay in our teepee. There's plenty of room." Rose Song, the chief's wife yelled to him.

"That's it! We will call you 'Heartsong'." he said, gathering the little girl up into his arms, and handing her gently over to Rose Song, who had been long morning for the girl child who died moments after she enter the world.

"Heartsong" Rose said looking into the  eyes of the child she was holding. "That is a perfect name for her. Grandfather has smiled on us Joseph."

From that moment onward, Rose never let Heartsong out of her sight. After months of trying to teach her the Cherokee language, she awoke one morning to the beautiful song Heartsong was singing.

"awooooooo-jooooo-Wi-ooo- na-ooo -de- yaoooo- hoooo"

It was if the little dark hair girl with those big green eyes had always belonged to her and Joseph.

The years flew by. Joseph and Rose watched with joy as their Heartsong grew into a beautiful Indian woman.

Many times Heartsong had been caught looking in the direction that Chief Joseph Eagle and his braves had found her. Some of the braves had reported seeing her sneak back into camp in the wee hours of the morning.

Legend has it that the child  stolen was given the gift of wolf talk so that Indian spirits could communicate with the spirits of  wolves, eagles and other animals-if ever Mother earth was threatened.


The End


More Stores by Jan Tetstone

Brave Star

The Woman Called Heartsong

Mary Bell in the Magic Garden

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