There once lived an old couple who had an only daughter. She was a beautiful girl, and was very much courted by the young men of the tribe, but she said that she preferred single life, and to all their heart-touching tales of deep affection for her she always had one answer. That was "No."
One day this maiden fell ill and day after day grew worse. All the best medicine men were called in, but their medicines were of no avail, and in two weeks from the day that she was taken ill she lay a corpse. Of course there was great mourning in the camp. They took her body several miles from camp and rolled it in fine robes and blankets, then they laid her on a scaffold which they had erected. (This was the custom of burial among the Indians). They placed four forked posts into the ground and then lashed strong poles lengthwise and across the ends and made a bed of willows and stout ash brush. This scaffold was from five to seven feet from the ground. After the funeral the parents gave away all of their horses, fine robes and blankets and all of the belongings of the dead girl. Then they cut their hair off close to their heads, and attired themselves in the poorest apparel they could secure.
When a year had passed the friends and relatives of the old couple tried in vain to have them set aside their mourning. "You have mourned long enough," they would say. "Put aside your mourning and try and enjoy a few more pleasures of this life while you live. You are both growing old and can't live very many more years, so make the best of your time." The old couple would listen to their advice and then shake their heads and answer: "We have nothing to live for. Nothing we could join in would be any amusement to us, since we have lost the light of our lives."
So the old couple continued their mourning for their lost idol. Two years had passed since the death of the beautiful girl, when one evening a hunter and his wife passed by the scaffold which held the dead girl. They were on their return trip and were heavily loaded down with game, and therefore could not travel very fast. About half a mile from the scaffold a clear spring burst forth from the side of a bank, and from this trickled a small stream of water, moistening the roots of the vegetation bordering its banks, and causing a growth of sweet green grass. At this spring the hunter camped and tethering his horses, at once set about helping his wife to erect the small tepee which they carried for convenience in traveling.
When it became quite dark, the hunter's dogs set up a great barking and growling. "Look out and see what the dogs are barking at," said the hunter to his wife. She looked out through the door and then drew back saying: "There is the figure of a woman advancing from the direction of the girl's scaffold."
"I expect it is the dead girl; let her come, and don't act as if you were afraid," said the hunter. Soon they heard footsteps advancing and the steps ceased at the door. Looking down at the lower part of the door the hunter noticed a pair of small moccasins, and knowing that it was the visitor, said: "Whoever you are, come in and have something to eat."
At this invitation the figure came slowly in and sat down by the door with head covered and with a fine robe drawn tightly over the face. The woman dished up a fine supper and placing it before the visitor, said: "Eat, my friend, you must be hungry." The figure never moved, nor would it uncover to eat. "Let us turn our back towards the door and our visitor may eat the food," said the hunter. So his wife turned her back towards the visitor and made herself very busy cleaning the small pieces of meat that were hanging to the back sinews of the deer which had been killed. (This the Indians use as thread.) The hunter, filling his pipe, turned away and smoked in silence. Finally the dish was pushed back to the woman, who took it and after washing it, put it away. The figure still sat at the door, not a sound coming from it, neither was it breathing. The hunter at last said: "Are you the girl that was placed upon that scaffold two years ago?" It bowed its head two or three times in assent. "Are you going to sleep here tonight; if you are, my wife will make down a bed for you." The figure shook its head. "Are you going to come again tomorrow night to us?" It nodded assent.
For three nights in succession the figure visited the hunter's camp. The third night the hunter noticed that the figure was breathing. He saw one of the hands protruding from the robe. The skin was perfectly black and was stuck fast to the bones of the hand. On seeing this the hunter arose and going over to his medicine sack which hung on a pole, took down the sack and, opening it, took out some roots and mixing them with skunk oil and vermillion, said to the figure:
"If you will let us rub your face and hands with this medicine it will put new life into the skin and you will assume your complexion again and it will put flesh on you." The figure assented and the hunter rubbed the medicine on her hands and face. Then she arose and walked back to the scaffold. The next day the hunter moved camp towards the home village. That night he camped within a few miles of the village. When night came, the dogs, as usual, set up a great barking, and looking out, the wife saw the girl approaching.
When the girl had entered and sat down, the hunter noticed that the girl did not keep her robe so closely together over her face. When the wife gave her something to eat, the girl reached out and took the dish, thus exposing her hands, which they at once noticed were again natural. After she had finished her meal, the hunter said: "Did my medicine help you?" She nodded assent. "Do you want my medicine rubbed all over your body?" Again she nodded. "I will mix enough to rub your entire body, and I will go outside and let my wife rub it on for you." He mixed a good supply and going out left his wife to rub the girl. When his wife had completed the task she called to her husband to come in, and when he came in he sat down and said to the girl: "Tomorrow we will reach the village. Do you want to go with us?" She shook her head. "Will you come again to our camp tomorrow night after we have camped in the village?" She nodded her head in assent. "Then do you want to see your parents?" She nodded again, and arose and disappeared into the darkness.
Early the next morning the hunter broke camp and traveled far into the afternoon, when he arrived at the village. He instructed his wife to go at once and inform the old couple of what had happened. The wife did so and at sunset the old couple came to the hunter's tepee. They were invited to enter and a fine supper was served them. Soon after they had finished their supper the dogs of the camp set up a great barking. "Now she is coming, so be brave and you will soon see your lost daughter," said the hunter. Hardly had he finished speaking when she entered the tent as natural as ever she was in life. Her parents clung to her and smothered her with kisses.
They wanted her to return home with them, but she would stay with the hunter who had brought her back to life, and she married him, becoming his second wife. A short time after taking the girl for his wife, the hunter joined a war party and never returned, as he was killed on the battlefield.
A year after her husband's death she married again. This husband was also killed by a band of enemies whom the warriors were pursuing for stealing some of their horses. The third husband also met a similar fate to the first. He was killed on the field of battle.
She was still a handsome woman at the time of the third husband's death, but never again married, as the men feared her, saying she was holy, and that any one who married her would be sure to be killed by the enemy.
So she took to doctoring the sick and gained the reputation of being the most skilled doctor in the nation. She lived to a ripe old age and when she felt death approaching she had them take her to where she had rested once before, and crawling to the top of the newly erected scaffold, wrapped her blankets and robes about her, covered her face carefully, and fell into that sleep from which there is no more awakening.
There was once upon a time a man who did not care to live with his tribe in a crowded village, but preferred a secluded spot in the deep forest, there to live with his wife and family of five children. The oldest of the children (a boy) was twelve years of age, and being the son of a distinguished hunter, soon took to roaming through the forest in search of small game.
One day during his ramblings, he discovered a crane's nest, with only one young crane occupying it. No doubt some fox or traveling weasel had eaten the rest of the crane's brothers and sisters. The boy said to himself, "I will take this poor little crane home and will raise him as a pet for our baby. If I leave him here some hungry fox will be sure to eat the poor little fellow." He carried the young crane home and it grew to be nearly as tall as the boy's five-year-old sister.
Being brought up in a human circle, it soon grew to understand all the family said. Although it could not speak it took part in all the games played by the children. The father of the family was, as I have before mentioned, a great hunter. He always had a plentiful supply of deer, antelope, buffalo and beaver meats on hand, but there came a change. The game migrated to some other locality, where no deadly shot like "Kutesan" (Never Miss) would be around to annihilate their fast decreasing droves. The hunter started out early one morning in hopes of discovering some of the game which had disappeared as suddenly as though the earth had swallowed them. The hunter traveled the whole day, all to no purpose. It was late in the evening when he staggered into camp. He was nearly dead with fatigue. Hastily swallowing a cup of cherry bark tea (the only article of food they had in store), he at once retired and was soon in the sweet land of dreams. The children soon joined their father and the poor woman sat thinking how they could save their dear children from starvation. Suddenly out upon the night air rang the cry of a crane. Instantly the pet crane awoke, stepped outside and answered the call. The crane which had given the cry was the father of the pet crane, and learning from Mr. Fox of the starving condition of his son and his friends, he flew to the hunting grounds of the tribe, and as there had been a good kill that day, the crane found no trouble in securing a great quantity of fat. This he carried to the tent of the hunter and, hovering over the tent he suddenly let the fat drop to the earth and at once the pet crane picked it up and carried it to the woman.
Wishing to surprise the family on their awakening in the morning she got a good stick for a light, heaped up sticks on the dying embers, and started up a rousing fire and proceeded to melt or try out the fat, as melted fat is considered a favorite dish. Although busily occupied she kept her ears open for any strange noises coming out of the forest, there being usually some enemies lurking around. She held her pan in such a position that after the fat started to melt and quite a lot of the hot grease accumulated in the pan, she could plainly see the tent door reflected in the hot grease, as though she used a mirror.
When she had nearly completed her task, she heard a noise as though some footsteps were approaching Instantly her heart began to beat a tattoo on her ribs, but she sat perfectly quiet, calling all her self-control into play to keep from making an outcry. This smart woman had already studied out a way in which to best this enemy, in case an enemy it should be. The footsteps, or noise, continued to advance, until at last the woman saw reflected in the pan of grease a hand slowly protruding through the tent door, and the finger pointed, as if counting, to the sleeping father, then to each one of the sleeping children, then to her who sat at the fire. Little did Mr. Enemy suppose that the brave woman who sat so composed at her fire, was watching every motion he was making. The hand slowly withdrew, and as the footsteps slowly died away, there rang out on the still night air the deep fierce howl of the prairie wolf. (This imitation of a prairie wolf is the signal to the war party that an enemy has been discovered by the scout whom they have sent out in advance). At once she aroused her husband and children. Annoyed at being so unceremoniously disturbed from his deep sleep, the husband crossly asked why she had awakened him so roughly. The wife explained what she had seen and heard. She at once pinned an old blanket around the crane's shoulders and an old piece of buffalo hide on his head for a hat or head covering. Heaping piles of wood onto the fire she instructed him to run around outside of the hut until the family returned, as they were going to see if they could find some roots to mix up with the fat. Hurriedly she tied her blanket around her middle, put her baby inside of it, and then grabbed her three year old son and packed him on her back. The father also hurriedly packed the next two and the older boy took care of himself.
Immediately upon leaving the tent they took three different directions, to meet again on the high hill west of their home. The reflection from the fire in the tent disclosed to them the poor pet crane running around the tent. It looked exactly like a child with its blanket and hat on.
Suddenly there rang out a score of shots and war whoops of the dreaded Crow Indians. Finding the tent deserted they disgustedly filed off and were swallowed up in the darkness of the deep forest.
The next morning the family returned to see what had become of their pet crane. There, riddled to pieces, lay the poor bird who had given up his life to save his dear friends.
There once lived a young couple who were very happy. The young man was noted throughout the whole nation for his accuracy with the bow and arrow, and was given the title of "Dead Shot," or "He who never misses his mark," and the young woman, noted for her beauty, was named Beautiful Dove.
One day a stork paid this happy couple a visit and left them a fine big boy. The boy cried "Ina, ina" (mother, mother). "Listen to our son," said the mother, "he can speak, and hasn't he a sweet voice?" "Yes," said the father, "it will not be long before he will be able to walk." He set to work making some arrows, and a fine hickory bow for his son. One of the arrows he painted red, one blue, and another yellow. The rest he left the natural color of the wood. When he had completed them, the mother placed them in a fine quiver, all worked in porcupine quills, and hung them up over where the boy slept in his fine hammock of painted moose hide.
At times when the mother would be nursing her son, she would look up at the bow and arrows and talk to her baby, saying: "My son, hurry up and grow fast so you can use your bow and arrows. You will grow up to be as fine a marksman as your father." The baby would coo and stretch his little arms up towards the bright colored quiver as though he understood every word his mother had uttered. Time passed and the boy grew up to a good size, when one day his father said: "Wife, give our son the bow and arrows so that he may learn how to use them." The father taught his son how to string and unstring the bow, and also how to attach the arrow to the string. The red, blue and yellow arrows, he told the boy, were to be used only whenever there was any extra good shooting to be done, so the boy never used these three until he became a master of the art. Then he would practice on eagles and hawks, and never an eagle or hawk continued his flight when the boy shot one of the arrows after him.
One day the boy came running into the tent, exclaiming: "Mother, mother, I have shot and killed the most beautiful bird I ever saw." "Bring it in, my son, and let me look at it." He brought the bird and upon examining it she pronounced it a different type of bird from any she had ever seen. Its feathers were of variegated colors and on its head was a topknot of pure white feathers. The father, returning, asked the boy with which arrow he had killed the bird. "With the red one," answered the boy. "I was so anxious to secure the pretty bird that, although I know I could have killed it with one of my common arrows, I wanted to be certain, so I used the red one." "That is right, my son," said the father. "When you have the least doubt of your aim, always use one of the painted arrows, and you will never miss your mark."
The parents decided to give a big feast in honor of their son killing the strange, beautiful bird. So a great many elderly women were called to the tent of Pretty Dove to assist her in making ready for the big feast. For ten days these women cooked and pounded beef and cherries, and got ready the choicest dishes known to the Indians. Of buffalo, beaver, deer, antelope, moose, bear, quail, grouse, duck of all kinds, geese and plover meats there was an abundance. Fish of all kinds, and every kind of wild fruit were cooked, and when all was in readiness, the heralds went through the different villages, crying out: "Ho-po, ho-po" (now all, now all), Dead Shot and his wife, Beautiful Dove, invite all of you, young and old, to their tepee to partake of a great feast, given by them in honor of a great bird which their son has killed, and also to select for their son some good name which he will bear through life. So all bring your cups and wooden dishes along with your horn spoons, as there will be plenty to eat. Come, all you council men and chiefs, as they have also a great tent erected for you in which you hold your council."
Thus crying, the heralds made the circle of the village. The guests soon arrived. In front of the tent was a pole stuck in the ground and painted red, and at the top of the pole was fastened the bird of variegated colors; its wings stretched out to their full length and the beautiful white waving so beautifully from its topknot, it was the center of attraction. Half way up the pole was tied the bow and arrow of the young marksman. Long streamers of fine bead and porcupine work waved from the pole and presented a very striking appearance. The bird was faced towards the setting sun. The great chief and medicine men pronounced the bird "Wakan" (something holy).
When the people had finished eating they all fell in line and marched in single file beneath the bird, in order to get a close view of it. By the time this vast crowd had fully viewed the wonderful bird, the sun was just setting clear in the west, when directly over the rays of the sun appeared a cloud in the shape of a bird of variegated colors. The councilmen were called out to look at the cloud, and the head medicine man said that it was a sign that the boy would grow up to be a great chief and hunter, and would have a great many friends and followers.
This ended the feast, but before dispersing, the chief and councilmen bestowed upon the boy the title of White Plume.
One day a stranger came to the village, who was very thin and nearly starved. So weak was he that he could not speak, but made signs for something to eat. Luckily the stranger came to Dead Shot's tent, and as there was always a plentiful supply in his lodge, the stranger soon had a good meal served him. After he had eaten and rested he told his story.
"I came from a very great distance," said he. "The nations where I came from are in a starving condition. No place can they find any buffalo, deer nor antelope. A witch or evil spirit in the shape of a white buffalo has driven all the large game out of the country. Every day this white buffalo comes circling the village, and any one caught outside of their tent is carried away on its horns. In vain have the best marksmen of the tribe tried to shoot it. Their arrows fly wide off the mark, and they have given up trying to kill it as it bears a charmed life. Another evil spirit in the form of a red eagle has driven all the birds of the air out of our country. Every day this eagle circles above the village, and so powerful is it that anyone being caught outside of his tent is descended upon and his skull split open to the brain by the sharp breastbone of the Eagle. Many a marksman has tried his skill on this bird, all to no purpose.
"Another evil spirit in the form of a white rabbit has driven out all the animals which inhabit the ground, and destroyed the fields of corn and turnips, so the nation is starving, as the arrows of the marksmen have also failed to touch the white rabbit. Any one who can kill these three witches will receive as his reward, the choice of two of the most beautiful maidens of our nation. The younger one is the handsomer of the two and has also the sweetest disposition. Many young, and even old men, hearing of this (our chief's) offer, have traveled many miles to try their arrows on the witches, but all to no purpose. Our chief, hearing of your great marksmanship, sent me to try and secure your services to have you come and rid us of these three witches."
Thus spoke the stranger to the hunter. The hunter gazed long and thoughtfully into the dying embers of the camp fire. Then slowly his eyes raised and looked lovingly on his wife who sat opposite to him. Gazing on her beautiful features for a full minute he slowly dropped his gaze back to the dying embers and thus answered his visitor:
"My friend, I feel very much honored by your chief having sent such a great distance for me, and also for the kind offer of his lovely daughter in marriage, if I should succeed, but I must reject the great offer, as I can spare none of my affections to any other woman than to my queen whom you see sitting there."
White Plume had been listening to the conversation and when his father had finished speaking, said: "Father, I am a child no more. I have arrived at manhood. I am not so good a marksman as you, but I will go to this suffering tribe and try to rid them of their three enemies. If this man will rest for a few days and return to his village and inform them of my coming, I will travel along slowly on his trail and arrive at the village a day or two after he reaches there."
"Very well, my son," said the father, "I am sure you will succeed, as you fear nothing, and as to your marksmanship, it is far superior to mine, as your sight is much clearer and aim quicker than mine."
The man rested a few days and one morning started off, after having instructed White Plume as to the trail. White Plume got together what he would need on the trip and was ready for an early start the next morning. That night Dead Shot and his wife sat up away into the night instructing their son how to travel and warning him as to the different kinds of people he must avoid in order to keep out of trouble. "Above all," said the father, "keep a good look out for Unktomi (spider); he is the most tricky of all, and will get you into trouble if you associate with him."
White Plume left early, his father accompanying him for several miles. On parting, the father's last words were: "Look out for Unktomi, my son, he is deceitful and treacherous." "I'll look out for him, father;" so saying he disappeared over a hill. On the way he tried his skill on several hawks and eagles and he did not need to use his painted arrows to kill them, but so skillful was he with the bow and arrows that he could bring down anything that flew with his common arrows. He was drawing near to the end of his destination when he had a large tract of timber to pass through. When he had nearly gotten through the timber he saw an old man sitting on a log, looking wistfully up into a big tree, where sat a number of prairie chickens.
"Hello, grandfather, why are you sitting there looking so downhearted?" asked White Plume. "I am nearly starved, and was just wishing some one would shoot one of those chickens for me, so I could make a good meal on it," said the old man. "I will shoot one for you," said the young man. He strung his bow, placed an arrow on the string, simply seemed to raise the arrow in the direction of the chicken (taking no aim). Twang went out the bow, zip went the arrow and a chicken fell off the limb, only to get caught on another in its descent. "There is your chicken, grandfather." "Oh, my grandson, I am too weak to climb up and get it. Can't you climb up and get it for me?" The young man, pitying the old fellow, proceeded to climb the tree, when the old man stopped him, saying: "Grandson, you have on such fine clothes, it is a pity to spoil them; you had better take them off so as not to spoil the fine porcupine work on them." The young man took off his fine clothes and climbed up into the tree, and securing the chicken, threw it down to the old man. As the young man was scaling down the tree, the old man said: "Iyashkapa, iyashkapa," (stick fast, stick fast). Hearing him say something, he asked, "What did you say, old man?" He answered, "I was only talking to myself." The young man proceeded to descend, but he could not move. His body was stuck fast to the bark of the tree. In vain did he beg the old man to release him. The old Unktomi, for he it was, only laughed and said: "I will go now and kill the evil spirits, I have your wonderful bow and arrows and I cannot miss them. I will marry the chief's daughter, and you can stay up in that tree and die there."
So saying, he put on White Plume's fine clothes, took his bow and arrows and went to the village. As White Plume was expected at any minute, the whole village was watching for him, and when Unktomi came into sight the young men ran to him with a painted robe, sat him down on it and slowly raising him up they carried him to the tent of the chief. So certain were they that he would kill the evil spirits that the chief told him to choose one of the daughters at once for his wife. (Before the arrival of White Plume, hearing of him being so handsome, the two girls had quarreled over which should marry him, but upon seeing him the younger was not anxious to become his wife.) So Unktomi chose the older one of the sisters, and was given a large tent in which to live. The younger sister went to her mother's tent to live, and the older was very proud, as she was married to the man who would save the nation from starvation. The next morning there was a great commotion in camp, and there came the cry that the white buffalo was coming. "Get ready, son-in-law, and kill the buffalo," said the chief.
Unktomi took the bow and arrows and shot as the buffalo passed, but the arrow went wide off its mark. Next came the eagle, and again he shot and missed. Then came the rabbit, and again he missed.
"Wait until tomorrow, I will kill them all. My blanket caught in my bow and spoiled my aim." The people were very much disappointed, and the chief, suspecting that all was not right, sent for the young man who had visited Dead Shot's tepee. When the young man arrived, the chief asked: "Did you see White Plume when you went to Dead Shot's camp?"
"Yes, I did, and ate with him many times. I stayed at his father's tepee all the time I was there," said the young man. "Would you recognize him if you saw him again?" asked the chief. "Any one who had but one glimpse of White Plume would surely recognize him when he saw him again, as he is the most handsome man I ever saw," said the young man.
"Come with me to the tent of my son-in-law and take a good look at him, but don't say what you think until we come away." The two went to the tent of Unktomi, and when the young man saw him he knew it was not White Plume, although it was White Plume's bow and arrows that hung at the head of the bed, and he also recognized the clothes as belonging to White Plume. When they had returned to the chief's tent, the young man told what he knew and what he thought. "I think this is some Unktomi who has played some trick on White Plume and has taken his bow and arrows and also his clothes, and hearing of your offer, is here impersonating White Plume. Had White Plume drawn the bow on the buffalo, eagle and rabbit today, we would have been rid of them, so I think we had better scare this Unktomi into telling us where White Plume is," said the young man.
"Wait until he tries to kill the witches again tomorrow," said the chief.
In the meantime the younger daughter had taken an axe and gone into the woods in search of dry wood. She went quite a little distance into the wood and was chopping a dry log. Stopping to rest a little she heard some one saying: "Whoever you are, come over here and chop this tree down so that I may get loose." Going to where the big tree stood, she saw a man stuck onto the side of the tree. "If I chop it down the fall will kill you," said the girl. "No, chop it on the opposite side from me, and the tree will fall that way. If the fall kills me, it will be better than hanging up here and starving to death," said White Plume, for it was he.
The girl chopped the tree down and when she saw that it had not killed the man, she said: "What shall I do now?" "Loosen the bark from the tree and then get some stones and heat them. Get some water and sage and put your blanket over me." She did as told and when the steam arose from the water being poured upon the heated rocks, the bark loosened from his body and he arose. When he stood up, she saw how handsome he was. "You have saved my life," said he. "Will you be my wife?" "I will," said she. He then told her how the old man had fooled him into this trap and took his bow and arrows, also his fine porcupine worked clothes, and had gone off, leaving him to die. She, in turn, told him all that had happened in camp since a man, calling himself White Plume, came there and married her sister before he shot at the witches, and when he came to shoot at them, missed every shot. "Let us make haste, as the bad Unktomi may ruin my arrows."
They approached the camp and whilst White Plume waited outside, his promised wife entered Unktomi's tent and said: "Unktomi, White Plume is standing outside and he wants his clothes and bow and arrows." "Oh, yes, I borrowed them and forgot to return them; make haste and give them to him."
Upon receiving his clothes, he was very much provoked to find his fine clothes wrinkled and his bow twisted, while the arrows were twisted out of shape. He laid the clothes down, also the bows and arrows, and passing his hand over them, they assumed their right shapes again. The daughter took White Plume to her father's tent and upon hearing the story he at once sent for his warriors and had them form a circle around Unktomi's tent, and if he attempted to escape to catch him and tie him to a tree, as he (the chief) had determined to settle accounts with him for his treatment of White Plume, and the deception employed in winning the chief's eldest daughter. About midnight the guard noticed something crawling along close to the ground, and seizing him found it was Unktomi trying to make his escape before daylight, whereupon they tied him to a tree. "Why do you treat me thus," cried Unktomi, "I was just going out in search of medicine to rub on my arrows, so I can kill the witches." "You will need medicine to rub on yourself when the chief gets through with you," said the young man who had discovered that Unktomi was impersonating White Plume.
In the morning the herald announced that the real White Plume had arrived, and the chief desired the whole nation to witness his marksmanship. Then came the cry: "The White Buffalo comes." Taking his red arrow, White Plume stood ready. When the buffalo got about opposite him, he let his arrow fly. The buffalo bounded high in the air and came down with all four feet drawn together under its body, the red arrow having passed clear through the animal, piercing the buffalo's heart. A loud cheer went up from the village.
"You shall use the hide for your bed," said the chief to White Plume. Next came a cry, "the eagle, the eagle." From the north came an enormous red eagle. So strong was he, that as he soared through the air his wings made a humming sound as the rumble of distant thunder. On he came, and just as he circled the tent of the chief, White Plume bent his bow, with all his strength drew the arrow back to the flint point, and sent the blue arrow on its mission of death. So swiftly had the arrow passed through the eagle's body that, thinking White Plume had missed, a great wail went up from the crowd, but when they saw the eagle stop in his flight, give a few flaps of his wings, and then fall with a heavy thud into the center of the village, there was a greater cheer than before. "The red eagle shall be used to decorate the seat of honor in your tepee," said the chief to White Plume. Last came the white rabbit. "Aim good, aim good, son-in-law," said the chief. "If you kill him you will have his skin for a rug." Along came the white rabbit, and White Plume sent his arrow in search of rabbit's heart, which it found, and stopped Mr. Rabbit's tricks forever.
The chief then called all of the people together and before them all took a hundred willows and broke them one at a time over Unktomi's back. Then he turned him loose. Unktomi, being so ashamed, ran off into the woods and hid in the deepest and darkest corner he could find. This is why Unktomis (spiders) are always found in dark corners, and anyone who is deceitful or untruthful is called a descendant of the Unktomi tribe.
There was once a baby boy who came into the world with a small cluster of different colored feathers grown fast to his forehead. From this he derived his name, "Pretty Feathered Forehead." He was a very pleasant boy as well as handsome, and he had the respect of the whole tribe. When he had grown up to be a young man, he never, like other young men, made love to any of the tribe's beauties. Although they were madly in love with him, he never noticed any of them. There were many handsome girls in the different camps, but he passed them by.
One day he said: "Father, I am going on a visit to the Buffalo nation." The father gave his consent, and away went the son. The father and mother suspected the object of their son's visit to the Buffalo nation, and forthwith commenced preparing a fine reception for their intended daughter-in-law. The mother sewed together ten buffalo hides and painted the brave deeds of her husband on them. This she made into a commodious tent, and had work bags and fine robes and blankets put inside. This was to be the tent of their son and daughter-in-law. In a few weeks the son returned, bringing with him a beautiful Buffalo girl. The parents of the boy gave a big feast in honor of the occasion, and the son and his wife lived very happily together.
In the course of time a son came to the young couple, and the father was very proud of his boy. When the boy became a year old, the father said to his wife: "I am going for a visit to the Elk nation." The mother was very sad, as she knew her husband was going after another wife. He returned, bringing with him a very beautiful elk girl. When the Buffalo woman saw the elk girl she was very downcast and sad, but the husband said: "Don't be sad; she will do all the heavy work for you."
They lived quite happily together for a long time. The Elk girl also became the mother of a fine boy. The two boys had grown up large enough to play around. One day the Elk woman was tanning hides outside and the two boys were playing around near their mothers, when all at once the buffalo boy ran across the robe, leaving his tracks on the white robe which his step-mother had nearly completed. This provoked the elk woman and she gave vent to her feelings by scolding the boy: "You clumsy flat mouth, why couldn't you run around my work, instead of across it?" The buffalo cow standing in the door, heard every word that the elk woman had said, and when she heard her son called flat mouth it made her very angry, although she did not say a word to any one. She hurriedly gathered some of her belongings and, calling her son, she started off in a westerly direction.
The husband being absent on a hunting expedition did not return until late in the afternoon. Upon his return his oldest boy always ran out to meet him, but this time as the boy did not put in an appearance, the father feared that something had happened to the boy. So hurriedly going to his tent he looked around, but failing to see the boy or his mother, he asked his elk wife, where the boy and his mother were. The elk wife answered: "She took her boy on her back and started off in that direction," (pointing towards the west). "How long has she been gone?" "Since early morning." The husband hurriedly caught a fresh horse and, without eating anything, rode off in the direction taken by his buffalo wife and boy. Near dark he ascended a high hill and noticed a small tent down in the valley. It was a long distance down to the tent, so it was very late when he arrived there. He tethered his horse and went into the tent and found the boy and his mother fast asleep. Upon lying down beside them the boy awoke, and upon seeing his father, motioned to him to go outside with him.
On going outside the boy told his father that it would be useless for him to try and coax his mother to return, as she was too highly insulted by the elk wife to ever return. Then the boy told about what the elk wife had said and that she had called him flat mouth. "My mother is determined to return to her people, but if you want to follow us you may, and perhaps, after she has visited with her relatives a little while, you may induce her to return with you. In the morning we are going to start very early, and as the country we will travel through is very hard soil, I will stamp my feet hard so as to leave my tracks imprinted in the softest places, then you will be able to follow the direction we will take."
The two went into the tent and were soon fast asleep. The father, being very much fatigued, slept very soundly, and when he awoke the sun was beating down upon him. The mother and boy were nowhere to be seen. The tent had been taken down from over him so carefully that he had not been awakened. Getting his horse, he mounted and rode after the two who had left him sleeping. He had no trouble in following the trail, as the boy had stamped his feet hard and left his little tracks in the soft places.
That evening he spied the little tent again and on getting to it found them both asleep. The boy awoke and motioned for his father to go outside. He again told his father that the next day's travel would be the hardest of all. "We will cross a great plain, but before we get there we will cross a sandy hollow. When you get to the hollow, look at my tracks; they will be deep into the sand, and in each track you will see little pools of water. Drink as much as you can, as this is the only chance you will get to have a drink, there being no water from there to the big ridge, and it will be dark by the time you get to the ridge. The relations of my mother live at that ridge and I will come and talk to you once more, before I leave you to join my mother's people."
Next morning, as before, he awoke to find himself alone. They had left him and proceeded on their journey. He mounted again and when he arrived at the sandy hollow, sure enough, there, deep in the sand, were the tracks of his son filled to the top with water. He drank and drank until he had drained the last one. Then he arose and continued on the trail, and near sundown he came in sight of their little tent away up on the side of the ridge. His horse suddenly staggered and fell forward dead, having died of thirst.
From there he proceeded on foot. When he got to where the tent stood he entered, only to find it empty. "I guess my son intends to come here and have his last talk with me," thought the father. He had eaten nothing for three days, and was nearly famished. He lay down, but the pangs of hunger kept sleep away. He heard footsteps outside and lay in readiness, thinking it might be an enemy. Slowly opening the covering of the door, his son looked in and seeing his father lying awake, drew back and ran off up the ridge, but soon returned bringing a small parcel with him. When he entered he gave the parcel to his father and said: "Eat, father; I stole this food for you, so I could not get very much." The father soon ate what his son had brought. When he had finished, the son said: "Tomorrow morning the relatives of my mother will come over here and take you down to the village. My mother has three sisters who have their work bags made identically the same as mother's. Were they to mix them up they could not each pick out her own without looking inside so as to identify them by what they have in them. You will be asked to pick out mother's work bag, and if you fail they will trample you to death. Next they will tell you to pick out my mother from among her sisters, and you will be unable to distinguish her from the other three, and if you fail they will bury you alive. The last they will try you on, in case you meet the first and second tests successfully, will be to require you to pick me out from my three cousins, who are as much like me as my reflection in the water. The bags you can tell by a little pebble I will place on my mother's. You can pick my mother out by a small piece of grass which I will put in her hair, and you can pick me out from my cousins, for when we commence to dance, I will shake my head, flop my ears and switch my tail. You must choose quickly, as they will be very angry at your success, and if you lose any time they will make the excuse that you did not know, that they may have an excuse to trample you to death."
The boy then left, after admonishing his father to remember all that he had told him. Early next morning the father heard a great rumbling noise, and going outside, he saw the whole hillside covered with buffalo. When he appeared they set up a loud bellowing and circled around him. One old bull came up and giving a loud snort, passed on by, looking back every few steps. The man, thinking he was to follow this one, did so, and the whole herd, forming a half circle around him, escorted him down the west side of the range out on to a large plain, where there stood a lone tree. To this tree the old bull led him and stopped when he reached the tree. A large rock at the foot of the tree served as a seat for the man. As soon as he was seated there came four female buffaloes, each bearing a large work box. They set the boxes down in a row in front of the man, and the herd crowded around closer in order to get a good view. The old bull came to the front and stood close to the bags, which had been taken out of the four boxes.
The man stood up, and looking at the bags, noticed a small pebble resting on the one next to the left end. Stepping over he pulled the bag towards him and secretly pushed the little pebble off the bag, so that no one would notice it. When they saw that he had selected the right one, they set up a terrific bellow.
Then came the four sisters and stood in a line before the man. Glancing along from the one on the right to the last one on the left, he stepped forward and placed his hand on the one next to the right. Thanks to his boy, if he hadn't put that little stem of grass on his mother's hair, the father could never have picked out his wife, as the four looked as much alike as four peas. Next came the four boy calves, and as they advanced they commenced dancing, and his son was shaking his head and flopping his ears and switching his tail. The father was going to pick out his boy, when a fainting spell took him, and as he sank to the ground the old bull sprang forward on top of him, and instantly they rushed upon him and he was soon trampled to a jelly. The herd then moved to other parts.
The elk wife concluded that something had happened to her husband and determined upon going in search of him. As she was very fleet of foot it did not take her long to arrive at the lone tree. She noticed the blood splashed on the base of the tree, and small pieces of flesh stamped into the earth. Looking closer, she noticed something white in the dust. Stooping and picking it out of the dust, she drew forth the cluster of different colored feathers which had been fastened to her husband's forehead. She at once took the cluster of feathers, and going to the east side of the ridge, heated stones and erected a wickieup, placed the feathers inside, and getting water, she sprinkled the stones, and this caused a thick vapor in the wickieup. She continued this for a long time, when she heard something moving inside the wickieup. Then a voice spoke up, saying: "Whoever you are, pour some more water on and I will be all right." So the woman got more water and poured it on the rocks. "That will do now, I want to dry off." She plucked a pile of sage and in handing it in to him, he recognized his elk wife's hand.
They went back home and shortly after the buffalo, hearing about him coming back to life, decided to make war on him and kill him and his wife, she being the one who brought him back to life. The woman, hearing of this, had posts set in the ground and a strong platform placed on top. When the buffalo came, her husband, her son and herself, were seated upon the bough platform, and the buffalo could not reach them. She flouted her red blanket in their faces, which made the buffalo wild with rage. The hunter's friends came to his rescue, and so fast were they killing the buffalo that they took flight and rushed away, never more to bother Pretty Feather Forehead.
Alone and apart from their tribe dwelt four orphan brothers. They had erected a very comfortable hut, although the materials used were only willows, hay, birch bark, and adobe mud. After the completion of their hut, the oldest brother laid out the different kinds of work to be done by the four of them. He and the second and third brothers were to do all the hunting, and the youngest brother was to do the house work, cook the meals, and keep plenty of wood on hand at all times.
As his older brothers would leave for their hunting very early every morning, and would not return till late at night, the little fellow always found plenty of spare time to gather into little piles fine dry wood for their winter use.
Thus the four brothers lived happily for a long time. One day while out gathering and piling up wood, the boy heard a rustling in the leaves and looking around he saw a young woman standing in the cherry bushes, smiling at him.
"Who are you, and where did you come from?" asked the boy, in surprise. "I am an orphan girl and have no relatives living. I came from the village west of here. I learned from rabbit that there were four orphan brothers living here all alone, and that the youngest was keeping house for his older brothers, so I thought I would come over and see if I couldn't have them adopt me as their sister, so that I might keep house for them, as I am very poor and have no relations, neither have I a home."
She looked so pitiful and sad that the boy thought to himself, "I will take her home with me, poor girl, no matter what my brothers think or say." Then he said to her: "Come on, tanke (sister). You may go home with me; I am sure my older brothers will be glad to have you for our sister."
When they arrived at the hut, the girl hustled about and cooked up a fine hot supper, and when the brothers returned they were surprised to see a girl sitting by the fire in their hut. After they had entered the youngest brother got up and walked outside, and a short time after the oldest brother followed him out. "Who is that girl, and where did she come from?" he asked his brother. Whereupon the brother told him the whole story. Upon hearing this the oldest brother felt very sorry for the poor orphan girl and going back into the hut he spoke to the girl, saying: "Sister, you are an orphan, the same as we; you have no relatives, no home. We will be your brothers, and our poor hut shall be your home. Henceforth call us brothers, and you will be our sister."
"Oh, how happy I am now that you take me as your sister. I will be to you all as though we were of the same father and mother," said the girl. And true to her word, she looked after everything of her brothers and kept the house in such fine shape that the brothers blessed the day that she came to their poor little hut. She always had an extra buckskin suit and two pairs of moccasins hanging at the head of each one's bed. Buffalo, deer, antelope, bear, wolf, wildcat, mountain lion and beaver skins she tanned by the dozen, and piled nicely in one corner of the hut.
When the Indians have walked a great distance and are very tired, they have great faith in painting their feet, claiming that paint eases the pain and rests their feet.
After their return from a long day's journey, when they would be lying down resting, the sister would get her paint and mix it with the deer tallow and rub the paint on her brother's feet, painting them up to their ankles. The gentle touch of her hands, and the soothing qualities of the tallow and paint soon put them into a deep, dreamless steep.
Many such kind actions on her part won the hearts of the brothers, and never was a full blood sister loved more than was this poor orphan girl, who had been taken as their adopted sister. In the morning when they arose, the sister always combed their long black silken scalp locks and painted the circle around the scalp lock a bright vermillion.
When the hunters would return with a goodly supply of beef, the sister would hurry and relieve them of their packs, hanging each one high enough from the ground so the prowling dogs and coyotes could not reach them. The hunters each had a post on which to hang his bow and flint head arrows. (Good hunters never laid their arrows on the ground, as it was considered unlucky to the hunter who let his arrows touch the earth after they had been out of the quiver). They were all perfectly happy, until one day the older brother surprised them all by saying: "We have a plentiful supply of meat on hand at present to last us for a week or so. I am going for a visit to the village west of us, so you boys all stay at home and help sister. Also gather as much wood as you can and I will be back again in four days. On my return we will resume our hunting and commence getting our year's supply of meat."
He left the next morning, and the last they saw of him was while he stood at the top of the long range of hills west of their home. Four days had come and gone and no sign of the oldest brother.
"I am afraid that our brother has met with some accident," said the sister. "I am afraid so, too," said the next oldest. "I must go and search for him; he may be in some trouble where a little help would get him out." The second brother followed the direction his brother had taken, and when he came to the top of the long range of hills he sat down and gazed long and steadily down into the long valley with a beautiful creek winding through it. Across the valley was a long plain stretching for miles beyond and finally ending at the foot of another range of hills, the counterpart of the one upon which he sat.
After noting the different landmarks carefully, he arose and slowly started down the slope and soon came to the creek he had seen from the top of the range. Great was his surprise on arriving at the creek to find what a difference there was in the appearance of it from the range and where he stood. From the range it appeared to be a quiet, harmless, laughing stream. Now he saw it to be a muddy, boiling, bubbling torrent, with high perpendicular banks. For a long time he stood, thinking which way to go, up or down stream. He had just decided to go down stream, when, on chancing to look up, he noticed a thin column of smoke slowly ascending from a little knoll. He approached the place cautiously and noticed a door placed into the creek bank on the opposite side of the stream. As he stood looking at the door, wondering who could be living in a place like that, it suddenly opened and a very old appearing woman came out and stood looking around her. Soon she spied the young man, and said to him: "My grandchild, where did you come from and whither are you bound?" The young man answered: "I came from east of this ridge and am in search of my oldest brother, who came over in this direction five days ago and who has not yet returned."
"Your brother stopped here and ate his dinner with me, and then left, traveling towards the west," said the old witch, for such she was. "Now, grandson, come across on that little log bridge up the stream there and have your dinner with me. I have it all cooked now and just stepped outside to see if there might not be some hungry traveler about, whom I could invite in to eat dinner with me." The young man went up the stream a little distance and found a couple of small logs which had been placed across the stream to serve as a bridge. He crossed over and went down to the old woman's dugout hut. "Come in grandson, and eat. I know you must be hungry."
The young man sat down and ate a real hearty meal. On finishing he arose and said: "Grandmother, I thank you for your meal and kindness to me. I would stay and visit with you awhile, as I know it must be very lonely here for you, but I am very anxious to find my brother, so I must be going. On my return I will stop with my brother and we will pay you a little visit."
"Very well, grandson, but before you go, I wish you would do me a little favor. Your brother did it for me before he left, and cured me, but it has come back on me again. I am subject to very severe pains along the left side of my backbone, all the way from my shoulder blade down to where my ribs attach to my backbone, and the only way I get any relief from the pain is to have some one kick me along the side." (She was a witch, and concealed in her robe a long sharp steel spike. It was placed so that the last kick they would give her, their foot would hit the spike and they would instantly drop off into a swoon, as if dead.)
"If I won't hurt you too much, grandmother, I certainly will be glad to do it for you," said the young man, little thinking he would be the one to get hurt.
"No, grandson, don't be afraid of hurting me; the harder you kick the longer the pain stays away." She laid down on the floor and rolled over on to her right side, so he could get a good chance to kick the left side where she said the pain was located.
As he moved back to give the first kick, he glanced along the floor and he noticed a long object wrapped in a blanket, lying against the opposite wall. He thought it looked strange and was going to stop and investigate, but just then the witch cried out as if in pain. "Hurry up, grandson, I am going to die if you don't hurry and start in kicking." "I can investigate after I get through with her," thought he, so he started in kicking and every kick he would give her she would cry: "Harder, kick harder." He had to kick seven times before he would get to the end of the pain, so he let out as hard as he could drive, and when he came to the last kick he hit the spike, and driving it through his foot, fell down in a dead swoon, and was rolled up in a blanket by the witch and placed beside his brother at the opposite side of the room.
When the second brother failed to return, the third went in search of the two missing ones. He fared no better than the second one, as he met the old witch who served him in a similar manner as she had his two brothers.
"Ha! Ha!" she laughed, when she caught the third, "I have only one more of them to catch, and when I get them I will keep them all here a year, and then I will turn them into horses and sell them back to their sister. I hate her, for I was going to try and keep house for them and marry the oldest one, but she got ahead of me and became their sister, so now I will get my revenge on her. Next year she will be riding and driving her brothers and she won't know it."
When the third brother failed to return, the sister cried and begged the last one not to venture out in search of them. But go he must, and go he did, only to do as his three brothers had done.
Now the poor sister was nearly distracted. Day and night she wandered over hills and through woods in hopes she might find or hear of some trace of them. Her wanderings were in vain. The hawks had not seen them after they had crossed the little stream. The wolves and coyotes told her that they had seen nothing of her brothers out on the broad plains, and she had given them up for dead.
One day, as she was sitting by the little stream that flowed past their hut, throwing pebbles into the water and wondering what she should do, she picked up a pure white pebble, smooth and round, and after looking at it for a long time, threw it into the water. No sooner had it hit the water than she saw it grow larger. She took it out and looked at it and threw it in again. This time it had assumed the form of a baby. She took it out and threw it in the third time and the form took life and began to cry: "Ina, ina" (mother, mother). She took the baby home and fed it soup, and it being an unnatural baby, quickly grew up to a good sized boy. At the end of three months he was a good big, stout youth. One day he said: "Mother, why are you living here alone? To whom do all these fine clothes and moccasins belong?" She then told him the story of her lost brothers. "Oh, I know now where they are. You make me lots of arrows. I am going to find my uncles." She tried to dissuade him from going, but he was determined and said: "My father sent me to you so that I could find my uncles for you, and nothing can harm me, because I am stone and my name is "Stone Boy."
The mother, seeing that he was determined to go, made a whole quiver full of arrows for him, and off he started. When he came to the old witch's hut, she was nowhere to be seen, so he pushed the door in and entered. The witch was busily engaged cooking dinner.
"Why, my dear grandchild, you are just in time for dinner. Sit down and we will eat before you continue your journey." Stone boy sat down and ate dinner with the old witch. She watched him very closely, but when she would be drinking her soup he would glance hastily around the room. Finally he saw the four bundles on the opposite side of the room, and he guessed at once that there lay his four uncles. When he had finished eating he took out his little pipe and filled it with "kini-kinic," and commenced to smoke, wondering how the old woman had managed to fool his smart uncles. He couldn't study it out, so when he had finished his smoke he arose to pretend to go. When the old woman saw him preparing to leave, she said: "Grandson, will you kick me on the left side of my backbone. I am nearly dead with pain and if you kick me good and hard it will cure me." "All right, grandma," said the boy. The old witch lay down on the floor and the boy started in to kick. At the first kick he barely touched her. "Kick as hard as you can, grandson; don't be afraid you will hurt me, because you can't." With that Stone Boy let drive and broke two ribs. She commenced to yell and beg him to stop, but he kept on kicking until he had kicked both sides of her ribs loose from the backbone. Then he jumped on her backbone and broke it and killed the old witch.
He built a big fire outside and dragged her body to it, and threw her into the fire. Thus ended the old woman who was going to turn his uncles into horses.
Next he cut willows and stuck them into the ground in a circle. The tops he pulled together, making a wickieup. He then took the old woman's robes and blankets and covered the wickieup so that no air could get inside. He then gathered sage brush and covered the floor with a good thick bed of sage; got nice round stones and got them red hot in the fire, and placed them in the wickieup and proceeded to carry his uncles out of the hut and lay them down on the soft bed of sage. Having completed carrying and depositing them around the pile of rocks, he got a bucket of water and poured it on the hot rocks, which caused a great vapor in the little wickie-up. He waited a little while and then listened and heard some breathing inside, so he got another bucket and poured that on also. After awhile he could hear noises inside as though some one were moving about. He went again and got the third bucket and after he had poured that on the rocks, one of the men inside said: "Whoever you are, good friend, don't bring us to life only to scald us to death again." Stone boy then said: "Are all of you alive?" "Yes," said the voice. "Well, come out," said the boy. And with that he threw off the robes and blankets, and a great cloud of vapor arose and settled around the top of the highest peak on the long range, and from that did Smoky Range derive its name.
The uncles, when they heard who the boy was, were very happy, and they all returned together to the anxiously waiting sister. As soon as they got home, the brothers worked hard to gather enough wood to last them all winter. Game they could get at all times of the year, but the heavy fall of snow covered most of the dry wood and also made it very difficult to drag wood through the deep snow. So they took advantage of the nice fall weather and by the time the snow commenced falling they had enough wood gathered to last them throughout the winter. After the snow fell a party of boys swiftly coasted down the big hill west of the brothers' hut. The Stone boy used to stand and watch them for hours at a time. His youngest uncle said: "Why don't you go up and coast with them?" The boy said: "They may be afraid of me, but I guess I will try once, anyway." So the next morning when the crowd came coasting, Stone boy started for the hill. When he had nearly reached the bottom of the coasting hill all of the boys ran off excepting two little fellows who had a large coaster painted in different colors and had little bells tied around the edges, so when the coaster was in motion the bells made a cheerful tinkling sound. As Stone boy started up the hill the two little fellows started down and went past him as though shot from a hickory bow.
When they got to the end of their slide, they got off and started back up the hill. It being pretty steep, Stone boy waited for them, so as to lend a hand to pull the big coaster up the hill. As the two little fellows came up with him he knew at once that they were twins, as they looked so much alike that the only way one could be distinguished from the other was by the scarfs they wore. One wore red, the other black. He at once offered to help them drag their coaster to the top of the hill. When they got to the top the twins offered their coaster to him to try a ride. At first he refused, but they insisted on his taking it, as they said they would sooner rest until he came back. So he got on the coaster and flew down the hill, only he was such an expert he made a zigzag course going down and also jumped the coaster off a bank about four feet high, which none of the other coasters dared to tackle. Being very heavy, however, he nearly smashed the coaster. Upon seeing this wonderful jump, and the zigzag course he had taken going down, the twins went wild with excitement and decided that they would have him take them down when he got back. So upon his arrival at the starting point, they both asked him at once to give them the pleasure of the same kind of a ride he had taken. He refused, saying: "We will break your coaster. I alone nearly smashed it, and if we all get on and make the same kind of a jump, I am afraid you will have to go home without your coaster."
"Well, take us down anyway, and if we break it our father will make us another one." So he finally consented. When they were all seated ready to start, he told them that when the coaster made the jump they must look straight ahead. "By no means look down, because if you do we will go over the cut bank and land in a heap at the bottom of the gulch."
They said they would obey what he said, so off they started swifter than ever, on account of the extra weight, and so swiftly did the sleigh glide over the packed, frozen snow, that it nearly took the twins' breath away. Like an arrow they approached the jump. The twins began to get a little nervous. "Sit steady and look straight ahead," yelled Stone boy. The twin next to Stone boy, who was steering behind, sat upright and looked far ahead, but the one in front crouched down and looked into the coulee. Of course, Stone boy, being behind, fell on top of the twins, and being so heavy, killed both of them instantly, crushing them to a jelly.
The rest of the boys, seeing what had happened, hastened to the edge of the bank, and looking down, saw the twins laying dead, and Stone boy himself knocked senseless, lying quite a little distance from the twins. The boys, thinking that all three were killed, and that Stone boy had purposely steered the sleigh over the bank in such a way that it would tip and kill the twins, returned to the village with this report. Now, these twins were the sons of the head chief of the Buffalo Nation. So at once the chief and his scouts went over to the hill to see if the boys had told the truth.
When they arrived at the bank they saw the twins lying dead, but where was Stone boy? They looked high and low through the gulch, but not a sign of him could they find. Tenderly they picked up the dead twins and carried them home, then held a big council and put away the bodies of the dead in Buffalo custom.
A few days after this the uncles were returning from a long journey. When they drew near their home they noticed large droves of buffalo gathered on their side of the range. Hardly any buffalo ever ranged on this east side of the range before, and the brothers thought it strange that so many should so suddenly appear there now.
When they arrived at home their sister told them what had happened to the chief's twins, as her son had told her the whole story upon his arrival at home after the accident.
"Well, probably all the buffalo we saw were here for the council and funeral," said the older brother. "But where is my nephew?" (Stone boy) he asked his sister. "He said he had noticed a great many buffalo around lately and he was going to learn, if possible, what their object was," said the sister. "Well, we will wait until his return."
When Stone boy left on his trip that morning, before the return of his uncles, he was determined to ascertain what might be the meaning of so many buffalo so near the home of himself and uncles. He approached several bunches of young buffalo, but upon seeing him approaching they would scamper over the hills. Thus he wandered from bunch to bunch, scattering them all. Finally he grew tired of their cowardice and started for home. When he had come to within a half mile or so of home he saw an old shaggy buffalo standing by a large boulder, rubbing on it first one horn and then the other. On coming up close to him, the boy saw that the bull was so old he could hardly see, and his horns so blunt that he could have rubbed them for a year on that boulder and not sharpened them so as to hurt anyone.
"What are you doing here, grandfather?" asked the boy.
"I am sharpening my horns for the war," said the bull.
"What war?" asked the boy.
"Haven't you heard," said the old bull, who was so near sighted he did not recognize Stone boy. "The chief's twins were killed by Stone boy, who ran them over a cut bank purposely, and the chief has ordered all of his buffalo to gather here, and when they arrive we are going to kill Stone boy and his mother and his uncles."
"Is that so? When is the war to commence?"
"In five days from now we will march upon the uncles and trample and gore them all to death."
"Well, grandfather, I thank you for your information, and in return will do you a favor that will save you so much hard work on your blunt horns." So saying he drew a long arrow from his quiver and strung his bow, attached the arrow to the string and drew the arrow half way back. The old bull, not seeing what was going on, and half expecting some kind of assistance in his horn sharpening process, stood perfectly still. Thus spoke Stone boy:
"Grandfather, you are too old to join in a war now, and besides if you got mixed up in that big war party you might step in a hole or stumble and fall and be trampled to death. That would be a horrible death, so I will save you all that suffering by just giving you this." At this word he pulled the arrow back to the flint head and let it fly. True to his aim, the arrow went in behind the old bull's foreleg, and with such force was it sent that it went clear through the bull and stuck into a tree two hundred feet away.
Walking over to the tree, he pulled out his arrow. Coolly straightening his arrow between his teeth and sighting it for accuracy, he shoved it back into the quiver with its brothers, exclaiming: "I guess, grandpa, you won't need to sharpen your horns for Stone boy and his uncles."
Upon his arrival home he told his uncles to get to work building three stockades with ditches between and make the ditches wide and deep so they will hold plenty of buffalo. "The fourth fence I will build myself," he said.
The brothers got to work early and worked until very late at night. They built three corrals and dug three ditches around the hut, and it took them three days to complete the work. Stone boy hadn't done a thing towards building his fence yet, and there were only two days more left before the charge of the buffalo would commence. Still the boy didn't seem to bother himself about the fence. Instead he had his mother continually cutting arrow sticks, and as fast as she could bring them he would shape them, feather and head them. So by the time his uncles had their fences and corrals finished he had a thousand arrows finished for each of his uncles. The last two days they had to wait, the uncles joined him and they finished several thousand more arrows. The evening before the fifth day he told his uncles to put up four posts, so they could use them as seats from which to shoot.
While they were doing this, Stone boy went out to scout and see how things looked. At daylight he came hurriedly in saying, "You had better get to the first corral; they are coming." "You haven't built your fence, nephew." Whereupon Stone boy said: "I will build it in time; don't worry, uncle." The dust on the hillsides rose as great clouds of smoke from a forest fire. Soon the leaders of the charge came in sight, and upon seeing the timber stockade they gave forth a great snort or roar that fairly shook the earth. Thousands upon thousands of mad buffalo charged upon the little fort. The leaders hit the first stockade and it soon gave way. The maddened buffalo pushed forward by the thousands behind them; plunged forward, only to fall into the first ditch and be trampled to death by those behind them. The brothers were not slow in using their arrows, and many a noble beast went down before their deadly aim with a little flint pointed arrow buried deep in his heart.
The second stockade stood their charge a little longer than did the first, but finally this gave way, and the leaders pushed on through, only to fall into the second ditch and meet a similar fate to those in the first. The brothers commenced to look anxiously towards their nephew, as there was only one more stockade left, and the second ditch was nearly bridged over with dead buffalo, with the now thrice maddened buffalo attacking the last stockade more furiously than before, as they could see the little hut through the openings in the corral.
"Come in, uncles," shouted Stone boy. They obeyed him, and stepping to the center he said: "Watch me build my fence." Suiting the words, he took from his belt an arrow with a white stone fastened to the point and fastening it to his bow, he shot it high in the air. Straight up into the air it went, for two or three thousand feet, then seemed to stop suddenly and turned with point down and descended as swiftly as it had ascended. Upon striking the ground a high stone wall arose, enclosing the hut and all who were inside. Just then the buffalo broke the last stockade only to fill the last ditch up again. In vain did the leaders butt the stone wall. They hurt themselves, broke their horns and mashed their snouts, but could not even scar the wall.
The uncles and Stone boy in the meantime rained arrows of death into their ranks.
When the buffalo chief saw what they had to contend with, he ordered the fight off. The crier or herald sang out: "Come away, come away, Stone boy and his uncles will kill all of us."
So the buffalo withdrew, leaving over two thousand of their dead and wounded on the field, only to be skinned and put away for the feasts of Stone boy and his uncles, who lived to be great chiefs of their own tribe, and whose many relations soon joined them on the banks of Stone Boy Creek.
There once lived, in a remote part of a great forest, two widowed sisters, with their little babies. One day there came to their tent a visitor who was called Unktomi (spider). He had found some nice red plums during his wanderings in the forest, and he said to himself, "I will keep these plums and fool the two widows with them." After the widows had bidden him be seated, he presented them with the plums.
On seeing them they exclaimed "hi nu, hi nu (an exclamation of surprise), where did you get those fine plums?" Unktomi arose and pointing to a crimson tipped cloud, said: "You see that red cloud? Directly underneath it is a patch of plums. So large is the patch and so red and beautiful are the plums that it is the reflection of them on the cloud that you see."
"Oh, how we wish some one would take care of our babies, while we go over there and pick some," said the sisters. "Why, I am not in any particular hurry, so if you want to go I will take care of my little nephews until you return." (Unktomi always claimed relationship with everyone he met). "Well brother," said the older widow, "take good care of them and we will be back as soon as possible."
The two then took a sack in which to gather the plums, and started off towards the cloud with the crimson lining. Scarcely had they gone from Unktomi's sight when he took the babies out of their swinging hammocks and cut off first one head and then the other. He then took some old blankets and rolled them in the shape of a baby body and laid one in each hammock. Then he took the heads and put them in place in their different hammocks. The bodies he cut up and threw into a large kettle. This he placed over a rousing fire. Then he mixed Indian turnips and arikara squash with the baby meat and soon had a kettle of soup. Just about the time the soup was ready to serve the widows returned. They were tired and hungry and not a plum had they. Unktomi, hearing the approach of the two, hurriedly dished out the baby soup in two wooden dishes and then seated himself near the door so that he could get out easily. Upon the entrance of the widows, Unktomi exclaimed: "Sisters, I had brought some meat with me and I cooked some turnips and squash with it and made a pot of fine soup. The babies have just fallen asleep, so don't waken them until you have finished eating, for I know that you are nearly starved." The two fell to at once and after they had somewhat appeased their appetites, one of them arose and went over to see how her baby was resting. Noting an unnatural color on her baby's face, she raised him up only to have his head roll off from the bundle of blankets. "'My son! my son!" she cried out. At once the other hastened to her baby and grabbed it up, only to have the same thing happen. At once they surmised who had done this, and caught up sticks from the fire with which to beat Unktomi to death. He, expecting something like this to happen, lost very little time in getting outside and down into a hole at the roots of a large tree. The two widows not being able to follow Unktomi down into the hole, had to give up trying to get him out, and passed the rest of the day and night crying for their beloved babies. In the meantime Unktomi had gotten out by another opening, and fixing himself up in an entirely different style, and painting his face in a manner that they would not recognize him, he cautiously approached the weeping women and inquired the cause of their tears.
Thus they answered him: "Unktomi came here and fooled us about some plums, and while we were absent killed our babies and made soup out of their bodies. Then he gave us the soup to eat, which we did, and when we found out what he had done we tried to kill him, but he crawled down into that hole and we could not get him out."
"I will get him out," said the mock stranger, and with that he crawled down into the hole and scratched his own face all over to make the widows believe he had been fighting with Unktomi. "I have killed him, and that you may see him I have enlarged the hole so you can crawl in and see for yourselves, also to take some revenge on his dead body." The two foolish widows, believing him, crawled into the hole, only to be blocked up by Unktomi, who at once gathered great piles of wood and stuffing it into the hole, set it on fire, and thus ended the last of the family who were foolish enough to let Unktomi tempt them with a few red plums.