Wanchese has embarked on a trading mission up the Chowan River to Choanoac with his superiors Andacon and Osacan and his cousin Nootau. Alsoomse had wanted to be included.
Alsoomse and Wanchese" Scenes
Chapter 6, Pages 50-51
... Looking over his right shoulder, Wanchese could no longer see the northern tip of
Roanoke Island, where the previous afternoon Alsoomse had
demanded that she accompany him, knowing her words were futile, believing a combative
dialogue was essential. It was one aspect of her being he both resented and
respected. If he ever did decide to court a young woman, she would have to be
just about as strong-minded.
“You and your important friends need to grind corn kernels, tend the fire and pot, dress deer hide, hunt for clams, make pottery, plant seeds, pull weeds, harvest crops, gather nuts and berries, do everything we do every day! Instead, you are permitted to travel, meet new people, do exciting things!” Why was it that she targeted him with her complaints?! It had been Ahone, not he, who had created the People, the sun, the moon, the rivers, the swamps, the great waters, the trees, animals, fish, and birds!
“The Great Creator determined our duties!” he had answered. “You have yours. I know mine. It is the way of things.” Her eyes had been large, adamant. “To change would be to destroy order, balance. Without order, without discipline, we do not survive. Our father and mother made that clear to us!” Standing close to him, her chin angled up at him, she had seemed more intent on forcing him to step backward than altering his viewpoint.
“Why must you challenge everything you decide is wrong?! Who are you to decide what is right?! Our leaders and the kwiocosuks and the gods decide. We accept! Those who cannot must live alone. Is that what you want?!” He had not diverted his eyes. He had not given ground! He had said nothing more!
She, not he, had stepped back. She had looked briefly across the water, had engaged him afterward as resolutely as before.
“I know responsibility! You know that! I know the importance of order! I would do nothing to hurt our people!” Face flushed, she had for five or six heartbeats stared, her frown distinct. “I am not content! My mind wants to know what you know, not by you telling me what you decide to tell me but by my living it. Myself! Can you understand that? I should be allowed! No, not allowed! I should be free to do!”
She was wrong. Going to Choanoac to trade with the great Menatonon is what men did! Important men! That familiar burn of temper was ascending the back of his neck! He was a hunter, a weir builder, a warrior, not a weaver of mats! Men and women were different! Meant to be! They had separate responsibilities, for obvious reasons. All responsibilities had to be met. No village member had the right to choose whatever task he or she wanted! It was hard enough for villagers, working together, to accomplish what survival demanded!
“I want to go someplace with you to learn things I do not know! I will not give up until I do!” Turning her head, she had looked again at the sun-dappled water. “When you get back,” she had said, enunciating each word, “you will tell me everything! About Menatonon, the women there, what Nootau said and did, what their village is like, how they are different from us, everything!”
“I will.” How the corners of his mouth had wanted to celebrate!