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INDIAN WHY STORIES




OLD-MAN'S TREACHERY


The next afternoon Muskrat and Fine
Bow went hunting. They hid them-
selves in some brush which grew beside an
old game trail that followed the river, and
there waited for a chance deer.

Chickadees hopped and called, "chick-a-de-
de-de" in the willows and wild-rose bushes that
grew near their hiding-place; and the gentle
little birds with their pretty coats were often
within a few inches of the hands of the young
hunters. In perfect silence they watched and
admired these little friends, while glance or
smile conveyed their appreciation of the bird-
visits to each other.

The wind was coming down the stream, and
therefore the eyes of the boys seldom left the
trail in that direction; for from that quarter
an approaching deer would be unwarned by
the ever-busy breeze. A rabbit came hopping
down the game trail in believed perfect se-
curity, passing so close to Fine Bow that he
could not resist the desire to strike at him with
an arrow. Both boys were obliged to cover
their mouths with their open hands to keep
from laughing aloud at the surprise and speed
shown by the frightened bunny, as he scurried
around a bend in the trail, with his white,
pudgy tail bobbing rapidly.
They had scarcely regained their compo-
sure and silence when, "snap!" went a dry
stick. The sharp sound sent a thrill through
the hearts of the boys, and instantly they
became rigidly watchful. Not a leaf could
move on the ground now--not a bush might
bend or a bird pass and escape being seen by
the four sharp eyes that peered from the brush
in the direction indicated by the sound of
the breaking stick. Two hearts beat loudly
as Fine Bow fitted his arrow to the bowstring.
Tense and expectant they waited--yes, it
was a deer--a buck, too, and he was coming
down the trail, alert and watchful--down
the trail that he had often travelled and knew
so well. Yes, he had followed his mother
along that trail when he was but a spotted
fawn--now he wore antlers, and was master
of his own ways. On he came--nearly to the
brush that hid the hunters, when, throwing
his beautiful head high in the air, he stopped,
turning his side a trifle.

Zipp--went the arrow and, kicking out
behind, away went the buck, crashing through
willows and alders that grew in his way, until
he was out of sight. Then all was still, save
the chick-a-de-de-de, chick-a-de-de-de, that
came constantly from the bushes about them.

Out from the cover came the hunters, and
with ready bow they followed along the trail.
Yes--there was blood on a log, and more
on the dead leaves. The arrow had found its
mark and they must go slowly in their trailing,
lest they lose the meat. For two hours they
followed the wounded animal, and at last
came upon him in a willow thicket--sick
unto death, for the arrow was deep in his
paunch. His sufferings were ended by another
arrow, and the chase was done.

With their knives the boys dressed the buck,
and then went back to the camp to tell the
women where the meat could be found--just
as the men do. It was their first deer; and
pride shone in their faces as they told their
grandfather that night in the lodge.

"That is good," War Eagle replied, as the
boys finished telling of their success. "That
is good, if your mother needed the meat, but
it is wrong to kill when you have plenty, lest
Manitou be angry. There is always enough,
but none to waste, and the hunter who kills
more than he needs is wicked. To-night I shall
tell you what happened to OLD-man when he did
that. Yes, and he got into trouble over it.

"One day in the fall when the leaves were
yellow, and the Deer-people were dressed in
their blue robes--when the Geese and Duck-
people were travelling to the country where
water does not freeze, and where flowers never
die, OLD-man was travelling on the plains.

"Near sundown he saw two Buffalo-Bulls
feeding on a steep hillside; but he had no
bow and arrow with him. He was hungry,
and began to think of some way to kill one
of the Bulls for meat. Very soon he thought
out a plan, for he is cunning always.

"He ran around the hill out of sight of the
Bulls, and there made two men out of grass
and sage-brush. They were dummies, of
course, but he made them to look just like real
men, and then armed each with a wooden
knife of great length. Then he set them in
the position of fighting; made them look as
though they were about to fight each other
with the knives. When he had them both
fixed to suit, he ran back to the place where
the Buffalo were calling:

"'Ho! brothers, wait for me--do not run
away. There are two fine men on the other
side of this hill, and they are quarrelling.
They will surely fight unless we stop them.
It all started over you two Bulls, too. One
of the men says you are fat and fine, and the
other claims you are poor and skinny. Don't
let our brothers fight over such a foolish thing
as that. It would be wicked. Now I can
decide it, if you will let me feel all over you
to see if you are fat or poor. Then I will go
back to the men and settle the trouble by tell-
ing them the truth. Stand still and let me feel
your sides--quick, lest the fight begin while
I am away.'

"'All right,' said the Bulls, 'but don't you
tickle us.' Then OLD-man walked up close
and commenced to feel about the Bulls' sides;
but his heart was bad. From his robe he
slipped his great knife, and slyly felt about
till he found the spot where the heart beats,
and then stabbed the knife into the place,
clear up to the hilt.

"Both of the Bulls died right away, and
OLD-man laughed at the trick he had played
upon them. Then he gave a knife to both of
his hands, and said:

"'Get to work, both of you! Skin these
Bulls while I sit here and boss you.'

"Both hands commenced to skin the Buf-
falo, but the right hand was much the swifter
worker. It gained upon the left hand rapidly,
and this made the left hand angry. Finally the
left hand called the right hand 'dog-face.'
That is the very worst thing you can call a
person in our language, you know, and of
course it made the right hand angry. So
crazy and angry was the right hand that it
stabbed the left hand, and then they began to
fight in earnest.

"Both cut and slashed till blood covered
the animals they were skinning. All this fight-
ing hurt OLD-man badly, of course, and he
commenced to cry, as women do sometimes.
This stopped the fight; but still OLD-man cried,
till, drying his tears, he saw a Red Fox sitting
near the Bulls, watching him. 'Hi, there, you
--go away from there ! If you want meat
you go and kill it, as I did.'

"Red Fox laughed--'Ha!--Ha!--Ha!--
foolish OLD-man--Ha!--ha!' Then he ran
away and told the other Foxes and the Wolves
and the Coyotes about OLD-man's meat. Told
them that his own hands couldn't get along
with themselves and that it would be easy
to steal it from him.

"They all followed the Red Fox back to
the place where OLD-man was, and there they
ate all of the meat--every bit, and polished
the bones.

"OLD-man couldn't stop them, because he
was hurt, you see; but it all came about through
lying and killing more meat than he needed.
Yes--he lied and that is bad, but his hands
got to quarrelling between themselves, and
family quarrels are always bad. Do not lie;
do not quarrel. It is bad. Ho!"

 


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