Two Indian Children Of Long Ago Part 7
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The boy ran toward the lake. His sister, White Cloud, watched him until he was out of sight. "Why can't girls go hunting?" she said. "I have seen seven winters. I shall follow his trail."
The child ran along, hiding behind trees and bushes, and stepping softly so that no broken twig could tell of her approach.
Indian children can see farther and hear far better than we can.
Although the old-time Indian never went to school, yet he trained his children to listen to every sound in the forest, and to notice all signs of animal life.
When White Cloud was near the lake, she hid in a clump of bushes and watched. Just in sight was a little stream winding through the low meadow.
She saw Swift Elk run along its banks. She waited without moving--waited as only an Indian child knows how to wait.
At last, far off, she saw a speck in the sky, then another and another. The specks grew larger. She held her breath.
A flock of wild ducks flew across the lake. Near the sh.o.r.e they turned and flew over the low meadow where the boy hunter was hiding in the high gra.s.s.
Suddenly the swift arrows flew. One, two, three, four ducks were hit and fell to the ground. Swift Elk picked up three and swung them over his shoulder.
He looked a long time for the fourth duck. Then, seeing another flock approaching, he ran toward the lake sh.o.r.e.
Again he was fortunate in choosing the place of their approach. White Cloud saw more arrows fly, and more ducks fall. Swift Elk ran on out of sight.
Then the little girl crawled from her hiding-place and crept along the ground in search of the missing duck. Surely there was something stirring in the long gra.s.s ahead. Almost afraid to move, the child crept closer and closer, until she saw a duck with a broken wing hanging useless by its side.
In a moment she had caught it. She held the bird in her arms until its struggles ceased. Then she bound its wing to its body with long pieces of gra.s.s.
She crawled to the stream and dropped water in its bill. The duck swallowed the water but refused all food.
White Cloud watched every movement in the distance, not daring to stand lest Swift Elk return. So she worked her way, concealed by high gra.s.s, to the home trail.
How she ran until she reached the low wigwam built for her dolls! Here she made a soft bed for the wounded bird. She smoothed its feathers and talked to it. How happy she was when she was able to coax the duck to eat the food she offered!
Swift Elk came home at night with all the game he could carry. His mother praised his hunting, and his father was pleased because he had pa.s.sed the entire day alone and without a mouthful of food.
"You must endure hunger and thirst, cold and heat, danger and pain, if you would become a great warrior," said his father. "And you must find your way alone through the forest for miles and miles, listening every moment for the footsteps of an enemy or the approach of a wild beast."
A fire had been made in front of the lodge. The ducks were buried, feathers and all, in the hot ashes. White Cloud brought wild berries and water from the spring. As soon as the birds were roasted the feathers and skins were pulled off and the hungry boy enjoyed his meal.
But White Cloud watched her chance to carry part of her own food to the duck. How she hated to leave him when the dark came on! But she fastened the shelter securely, hoping that no lurking fox or weasel would force his way inside.
The next morning White Cloud was up before her brother. She hid in the tiny lodge, to protect her pet until Swift Elk had left for the day.
The duck soon became so tame that it followed her wherever she went.
The difficulty in taming the wild creature, and the constant danger of losing it, led the child to be as kind and patient with her pet as an Indian mother is with her papoose.
One day Good Bird was roasting deer meat. She had made a hot fire in front of the lodge. Sticks sharpened at both ends were driven in the ground close to the bed of coals. The sticks were bent toward the fire, and each one held a large piece of raw meat.
When the meat was tender, Good Bird called her little daughter. "My father is old," she said. "He can no longer hunt. Take some of this roast meat to him."
White Cloud took the dish and went to her grandfather's lodge, the duck waddling behind her. After the old man had eaten, White Cloud said, "Grandfather, do you know any stories about ducks?"
"Point to the north, my grandchild, and tell me who live in the land of ice and snow."
"North Wind and Old Winter," answered the child.
"And what do they do, little one?"
"They send the game far from my father's arrows. They freeze our food and try to starve us. North Wind gives the war whoop as he flies in the forest.
"Then Old Winter comes like the Indians on the war trail. We cannot see him, and we cannot hear him. He does not break a twig, and his footsteps make no sound. He crowds into our lodge, and tries to steal our fire and freeze us. I wish he would never come again!"
"We must be brave, my grandchild. We must make ready with food and firewood to fight his power. I will tell you of a brave little duck that even North Wind could not conquer."
A BRAVE DUCK
Far to the north lived Wild Duck. His lodge was by the frozen lake.
Winter was beginning, and he had but four logs of wood for his fire.
"Four logs will do," he said. "Each log will burn for many sleeps, and then spring will be on the way."
Wild Duck was as brave as a warrior. On the coldest days he went to the lake to fish. He found the rushes that grew high above the water.
With his strong bill he pulled up the frozen plant stems. Then he dived through the holes he had made in the ice and caught the fish swimming beneath.
In this way he found plenty of food. Every day he went home to his lodge dragging strings of fish. North Wind blew his fiercest blasts, but no wind was cold enough to keep Wild Duck in his wigwam.
"This is a strange duck!" said North Wind. "He seems as happy as if it were the moon of strawberries. He is hard to conquer, but I will freeze him."
So the wind blew colder and colder, and great drifts of snow were piled up about the wigwam. But still the fire burned brightly. The duck went daily to the lake, and daily he brought home fish.
"Soon I will visit him," said North Wind. "Then he shall feel my power."
That very night North Wind went to the door of the wigwam. He lifted the curtain and looked in.
Wild Duck had cooked his fish and was lying before the bright fire. He was singing a song to his enemy.
"You may blow as hard as you can, North Wind," he sang. "I dare you to freeze me. You may pile the snow to the top of my lodge. I shall climb the drifts and go fis.h.i.+ng just the same."
"How dare a little duck sing like this about me?" bl.u.s.tered North Wind.
"I will enter. I will blow my cold breath upon him, and he will freeze."
North Wind pushed his way through the door and sat down on the opposite side of the lodge. Cold blasts filled the hut.
Was Wild Duck afraid? He got up and poked the fire, singing his song louder and louder. Not once did he look at his guest.
Two Indian Children Of Long Ago Part 7
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Two Indian Children Of Long Ago Part 7 summary
You're reading Two Indian Children Of Long Ago Part 7. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Frances Taylor already has 133 views.
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