Pauline recalls an earlier time when a young Chippewa woman named Fleur survived a drowning. Pauline also remembers about Fleur’s association with Misshepeshu, the devil-like waterman monster of Chippewa myth. Pauline calls Fleur a woman who “messed with evil,” who laughed at the women of the tribe, wore men’s clothing, and hunted. Fleur was feared and mistrusted by her tribe.
In 1920 Fleur lived in Argus, a small town in North Dakota, where she worked at Pete Kozka’s butcher shop—a place that was part slaughterhouse and part store. Kozka hired her because of her strength. At that time the narrator also worked for Kozka. Unlike Fleur, who worked with the men, the narrator cleaned floors and stoked fires in the smokehouses. Existing only on the fringes of activities there, Pauline describes herself as invisible.
After the death of Pauline’s mother, Pauline’s stepfather, Dutch, took her out of school so that she could take her mother’s place in the home. She then had to spend half her time working at the butcher shop and the other half doing housework. Seemingly the only person aware of Pauline’s existence, Fleur treated her kindly as Pauline watched the interminable card games—the primary recreational activity of Fleur and the men.
Lily, Dutch, and Tor grew increasingly irritated with Fleur because she beat them at their own game. She never bluffed and always ended the evening with exactly one dollar until one...
(The entire section is 442 words.)