He was asleep in the doorway.
Otter Woman shook her head and mumbled in her native Shoshone tongue. “I don’t like that
white man drink that makes men mean and sleepy. Now there will be no meat for supper.”
It was the Hidatsa man’s job to care for the horses and bring home meat.
Sacagawea hugged Otter Woman. “Thank you for saving us.” She spoke in low, Shoshone
tones that Pompey could not understand. “We do not need meat when we have each other, my
Sacagawea didn’t want her son to be afraid of his father’s sleeping body in the doorway. “Oh
look, Pompey. Papa is playing a sleeping game because it’s very hot outside. Would you like to play
a different kind of sleeping game with me until the sky is cool again?” Sacagawea tried to make her
voice sound happy as she carried her son past his father and out of the room. She looked back at
Otter Woman who motioned for them to go. Sacagawea challenged Pompey to a race to the grove of
cottonwood trees by the river.
“I can beat you to the trees, Pompey, want to see?”
“No you can’t!” Pompey ran with his little chest out and his arms and legs pumping.
Sacagawea ran behind and let Pompey reach the grove before she did. Sacagawea collapsed into the
cool grass under the trees.
“I won! I won!” Pompey cheered.
“You are a great warrior, my son.” Sacagawea tried to catch her breath.
Pompey sat beside his mother and leaned against a giant tree. For a silent moment they
looked across the glistening waters of the Missouri River and listened to the song of the trees
dancing in the wind. Sacagawea gained peace from their gentle whispers.
Pompey, who couldn’t stay silent for long, broke through the solitude with a pleading voice.
“Mama, tell me again the story of your journey with Man-With-Red-Hair.”