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The Trail Book by Mary Austin et al

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[Illustration: "'Arr-rr-ump!' I said"]



























THEMSELVES (in color)









(in Color)









From the time that he had first found, himself alone with them, Oliver
had felt sure that the animals could come alive again if they wished.
That was one blowy afternoon about a week after his father had been made
night engineer and nobody had come into the Museum for several hours.

Oliver had been sitting for some time in front of the Buffalo case,
wondering what might be at the other end of the trail. The cows that
stood midway in it had such a _going_ look. He was sure it must lead,
past the hummock where the old bull flourished his tail, to one of those
places where he had always wished to be. All at once, as the boy sat
there thinking about it, the glass case disappeared and the trail shot
out like a dark snake over a great stretch of rolling, grass-covered

He could see the tops of the grasses stirring like the hair on the old
Buffalo's coat, and the ripple of water on the beaver pool which was
just opposite and yet somehow only to be reached after long travel
through the Buffalo Country. The wind moved on the grass, on the surface
of the water and the young leaves of the alders, and over all the
animals came the start and stir of life.

And then the slow, shuffling steps of the Museum attendant startled it
all into stillness again.

The attendant spoke to Oliver as he passed, for even a small boy is
worth talking to when you have been all day in a Museum where nothing is
new to you and nobody comes.

"You want to look out, son," said the attendant, who really liked the
boy and hadn't a notion what sort of ideas he was putting into Oliver's
head. "If you ain't careful, some of them things will come downstairs
some night and go off with ye."

And why should MacShea have said that if he hadn't known for certain
that the animals _did_ come alive at night? That was the way Oliver put
it when he was trying to describe this extraordinary experience to
his sister.

Dorcas Jane, who was eleven and a half and not at all imaginative, eyed
him suspiciously. Oliver had such a way of stating things that were not
at all believable, in a way that made them seem the likeliest things in
the world. He was even capable of acting for days as if things were so,
which you knew from the beginning were only the most delightful of
make-believes. Life on this basis was immensely more exciting, but then
you never knew whether or not he might be what some of his boy friends
called "stringing you," so when Oliver began to hint darkly at his
belief that the stuffed animals in the Mammal room of the Museum came
alive at night and had larks of their own, Dorcas Jane offered the most
noncommittal objection that occurred to her.

"They couldn't," she said; "the night watchman wouldn't let them." There
were watchmen, she knew, who went the rounds of every floor.

But, insisted Oliver, why should they have watchmen at all, if not to
prevent people from breaking in and disturbing the animals when they
were busy with affairs of their own? He meant to stay up there himself
some night and see what it was all about; and as he went on to explain
how it would be possible to slip up the great stair while the watchmen
were at the far end of the long hall, and of the places one could hide
if the watchman came along when he wasn't wanted, he said "we" and "us."
For, of course, he meant to take Dorcas Jane with him. Where would be
the fun of such an adventure if you had it alone? And besides, Oliver
had discovered that it was not at all difficult to scare himself with the
things he had merely imagined. There were times when Dorcas Jane's frank
disbelief was a great comfort to him. Still, he wasn't the sort of boy
to be scared before anything has really happened, so when Dorcas Jane
suggested that they didn't know what the animals might do to any one who
went among them uninvited, he threw it off stoutly.

"Pshaw! They can't do anything to us! They're stuffed, Silly!"

And to Dorcas Jane, who was by this time completely under the spell of
the adventure, it seemed quite likely that the animals should be stuffed
so that they couldn't hurt you, and yet not stuffed so much that they
couldn't come alive again.

It was all of a week before they could begin. There is a kind of feeling
you have to have about an adventure without which the affair doesn't
come off properly. Anybody who has been much by himself in the woods has
had it; or sometime, when you are all alone in the house, all at once
there comes a kind of pricking of your skin and a tightness in your
chest, not at all unpleasant, and a kind of feeling that the furniture
has its eye on you, or that some one behind your shoulder is about to
speak, and immediately after that something happens. Or you feel sure it
would have happened if somebody hadn't interrupted.

Dorcas Jane _never_ had feelings like that. But about a week after
Oliver had proposed to her that they spend a part of the night in the
long gallery, he was standing in front of the Buffalo case, wondering
what actually did happen when a buffalo caught you. Quite unexpectedly,
deep behind the big bull's glassy eye, he caught a gleam as of another
eye looking at him, meaningly, and with a great deal of friendliness.
Oliver felt prickles come out suddenly all over his body, and without
quite knowing why, he began to move away from that place, tip-toe and
slippingly, like a wild creature in the woods when it does not know who
may be about. He told himself it would never do to have the animals come
alive without Dorcas Jane, and before all those stupid, staring folk who
might come in at any minute and spoil everything.

That night, after their father had gone off clanking to his furnaces,
Dorcas heard her brother tapping on the partition between their rooms,
as he did sometimes when they played "prisoner." She knew exactly what
he meant by it and tapped back that she was ready.

Everything worked out just as they had planned. They heard the strange,
hollow-sounding echoes of the watchman's voice dying down the halls, as
stair by stair they dropped the street lamps below them, and saw strange
shadows start out of things that were perfectly harmless and familiar
by day.

There was no light in the gallery except faint up-and-down glimmers from
the glass of the cases, and here and there the little spark of an eye.
Outside there was a whole world of light, the milky way of the street
with the meteor roar of the Elevated going by, processions of small
moons marching below them across the park, and blazing constellations in
the high windows opposite. Tucked into one of the window benches between
the cases, the children seemed to swing into another world where almost
anything might happen. And yet for at least a quarter of an hour
nothing did.

"I don't believe nothing ever does," said Dorcas Jane, who was not at
all careful of her grammar.

"Sh-sh!" said Oliver. They had sat down directly in front of the Buffalo
Trail, though Dorcas would have preferred to be farther away from the
Polar Bear. For suppose it hadn't been properly stuffed! But Oliver had
eyes only for the trail.

"I want to see where it begins and where it goes," he insisted.

So they sat and waited, and though the great building was never allowed
to grow quite cold, it was cool enough to make it pleasant for them to
sit close together and for Dorcas to tuck her hand into the crook of
his arm....

All at once the Bull Buffalo shook himself.

[Illustration: Line Art of Mastadons]



"_Wake! Wake!_" said the Bull Buffalo, with a roll to it, as though the
word had been shouted in a deep voice down an empty barrel. He shook the
dust out of his mane and stamped his fore-foot to set the herd in
motion. There were thousands of them feeding as far as the eye could
reach, across the prairie, yearlings and cows with their calves of that
season, and here and there a bull, tossing his heavy head and sending up
light puffs of dust under the pawings of his hoof as he took up the
leader's signal.

"Wake! Wa--ake!"

It rolled along the ground like thunder. At the sound the herds gathered
themselves from the prairie, they turned back from the licks, they rose
up _plop_ from the wallows, trotting singly in the trails that rayed out
to every part of the pastures and led up toward the high ridges.

"Wa-ak--" began the old bull; then he stopped short, threw up his head,
sniffing the wind, and ended with a sharp snort which changed the words
to "_What? What?_"

"What's this," said the Bull Buffalo, "Pale Faces?"

"They are very young," said the young cow, the one with the _going_
look. She had just been taken into the herd that season and had the
place of the favorite next to the leader.

"If you please, sir," said Oliver, "we only wished to know where the
trail went."

"Why," said the Buffalo Chief, surprised, "to the Buffalo roads, of
course. We must be changing pasture." As he pawed contempt upon the
short, dry grass, the rattlesnake, that had been sunning himself at the
foot of the hummock, slid away under the bleached buffalo skull, and the
small, furry things dived everywhere into their burrows.

"That is the way always," said the young cow, "when the Buffalo People
begin their travels. Not even a wolf will stay in the midst of the
herds; there would be nothing left of him by the time the hooves had
passed over."

The children could see how that might be, for as the thin lines began to
converge toward the high places, it was as if the whole prairie had
turned black and moving. Where the trails drew out of the flat lands to
the watersheds, they were wide enough for eight or ten to walk abreast,
trodden hard and white as country roads. There was a deep, continuous
murmur from the cows like the voice of the earth talking to itself
at twilight.

"Come," said the old bull, "we must be moving."

"But what is that?" said Dorcas Jane, as a new sound came from the
direction of the river, a long chant stretching itself like a snake
across the prairie, and as they listened there were words that lifted
and fell with an odd little pony joggle.

"That is the Pawnees, singing their travel song," said the Buffalo

And as he spoke they could see the eagle bonnets of the tribesmen coming
up the hollow, every man mounted, with his round shield and the point of
his lance tilted forward. After them came the women on the pack-ponies
with the goods, and the children stowed on the travoises of lodge-poles
that trailed from the ponies' withers.

"Ha-ah," said the old bull. "One has laid his ear to the ground in their
lodges and has heard the earth tremble with the passing of the
Buffalo People."

"But where do they go?" said Dorcas.

"They follow the herds," said the old bull, "for the herds are their
food and their clothes and their housing. It is the Way Things Are that
the Buffalo People should make the trails and men should ride in them.
They go up along the watersheds where the floods cannot mire, where the
snow is lightest, and there are the best lookouts."

"And, also, there is the easiest going," said a new voice with a snarly
running whine in it. It came from a small gray beast with pointed ears
and a bushy tail, and the smut-tipped nose that all coyotes have had
since their very first father blacked himself bringing fire to Man from
the Burning Mountain. He had come up very softly at the heels of the
Buffalo Chief, who wheeled suddenly and blew steam from his nostrils.

"That," he said, "is because of the calves. It is not because a buffalo
cannot go anywhere it pleases him; down ravines where a horse would
stumble and up cliffs where even you, O Smut Nose, cannot follow."

"True, Great Chief," said the Coyote, "but I seem to remember trails
that led through the snow to very desirable places."

This was not altogether kind, for it is well known that it is only when
snow has lain long enough on the ground to pack and have a hard coating
of ice, that the buffaloes dare trust themselves upon it. When it is
new-fallen and soft they flounder about helplessly until they die of
starvation, and the wolves pull them down, or the Indians come and kill
them. But the old bull had the privilege which belongs to greatness, of
not being obliged to answer impertinent things that were said to him. He
went on just as if nothing had interrupted, telling how the buffalo
trails had found the mountain passes and how they were rutted deep into
the earth by the migrating herds.

"I have heard," he said, "that when the Pale Faces came into the country
they found no better roads anywhere than the buffalo traces--"

"Also," purred Moke-icha, "I have heard that they found trails through
lands where no buffalo had been before them." Moke-icha, the Puma, lay
on a brown boulder that matched so perfectly with her watered coat that
if it had not been for the ruffling of the wind on her short fur and the
twitchings of her tail, the children might not have discovered her.
"Look," she said, stretching out one of her great pads toward the south,
where the trail ran thin and white across a puma-colored land, streaked
with black lava and purple shadow. Far at the other end it lifted in
red, wall-sided buttes where the homes of the Cliff People stuck like
honeycombs in the wind-scoured hollows.

"Now I recall a trail in that country," said Moke-icha, "that was older
than the oldest father's father of them could remember. Four times a
year the People of the Cliffs went down on it to the Sacred Water, and
came back with bags of salt on their shoulders."

Even as she spoke they could see the people coming out of the Cliff
dwellings and the priests going into the kivas preparing for
the journey.

That was how it was; when any animal spoke of the country he knew best,
that was what the children saw. And yet all the time there was the
beginning of the buffalo trail in front of them, and around them, drawn
there by that something of himself which every man puts into the work of
his hands, the listening tribesmen. One of these spoke now in answer to

"Also in my part of the country," he said, "long before there were Pale
Faces, there were trade trails and graded ways, and walled ways between
village and village. We traded for cherts as far south as Little River
in the Tenasas Mountains, and north to the Sky-Blue Water for copper
which was melted out of rocks, and there were workings at Flint Ridge
that were older than the great mound at Cahokia."

"Oh," cried both the children at once, "Mound-Builders!"--and they
stared at him with interest.

He was probably not any taller than the other Indians, but seemed so on
account of his feather headdress which was built up in front with a
curious cut-out copper ornament. They thought they recognized the broad
banner stone of greenish slate which he carried, the handle of which was
tasseled with turkey beards and tiny tails of ermine. He returned the
children's stare in the friendliest possible fashion, twirling his
banner stone as a policeman does his night stick.

"Were you? Mound-Builders, you know?" questioned Oliver.

"You could call us that. We called ourselves Tallegewi, and our trails
were old before the buffalo had crossed east of the Missi-Sippu, the
Father of all Rivers. Then the country was full of the horned people,
thick as flies in the Moon of Stopped Waters." As he spoke, he pointed
to the moose and wapiti trooping down the shallow hills to the
watering-places. They moved with a dancing motion, and the multitude of
their horns was like a forest walking, a young forest in the spring
before the leaves are out and there is a clicking of antlered bough on
bough. "They would come in twenty abreast to the licks where we lay in
wait for them," said the Tallega. "They were the true trail-makers."

"Then you must have forgotten what I had to do with it," said a voice
that seemed to come from high up in the air, so that they all looked up
suddenly and would have been frightened at the huge bulk, if the voice
coming from it in a squeaky whisper had not made it seem ridiculous. It
was the Mastodon, who had strolled in from the pre-historic room, though
it was a wonder to the children how so large a beast could move
so silently.

"Hey," said a Lenni-Lenape, who had sat comfortably smoking all this
time, "I've heard of you--there was an old Telling of my
father's--though I hardly think I believed it. What are you doing here?"

"I've a perfect right to come," said the Mastodon, shuffling
embarrassedly from foot to foot. "I was the first of my kind to have a
man belonging to me, and it was I that showed him the trail to the sea."

"Oh, please, would you tell us about it?" said Dorcas.

The Mastodon rocked to and fro on his huge feet, embarrassedly.

"If--if it would please the company--"

Everybody looked at the Buffalo Chief, for, after all, it was he who
began the party. The old bull pawed dust and blew steam from his
nostrils, which was a perfectly safe thing to do in case the story
didn't turn out to his liking.

"Tell, tell," he agreed, in a voice like a man shouting down twenty rain
barrels at once.

And looking about slyly with his little twinkling eyes at the attentive
circle, the Mastodon began.



"In my time, everything, even the shape of the land was different. From
Two Rivers it was all marsh, marsh and swamp with squidgy islands, with
swamp and marsh again till you came to hills and hard land, beyond which
was the sea. Nothing grew then but cane and coarse grass, and the water
rotting the land until there was no knowing where it was safe treading
from year to year. Not that it mattered to my people. We kept to the
hills where there was plenty of good browse, and left the swamp to the
Grass-Eaters--bunt-headed, woolly-haired eaters of grass!"

Up came Arrumpa's trunk to trumpet his contempt, and out from the
hillslope like a picture on a screen stretched for a moment the flat
reed-bed of Two Rivers, with great herds of silly, elephant-looking
creatures feeding there, with huge incurving trunks and backs that
sloped absurdly from a high fore-hump. They rootled in the tall grass or
shouldered in long, snaky lines through the canes, their
trunks waggling.

"Mammoths they were called," said Arrumpa, "and they hid in the swamp
because their tusks curved in and they were afraid of Saber-Tooth, the
Tiger. There were a great many of them, though not so many as our
people, and also there was Man. It was the year my tusks began to grow
that I first saw him. We were coming up from the river to the
bedding-ground and there was a thin rim of the moon like a tusk over the
hill's shoulder. I remember the damp smell of the earth and the good
smell of the browse after the sun goes down, and between them a thin
blue mist curling with a stinging smell that made prickles come along
the back of my neck.

"'What is that?' I said, for I walked yet with my mother.

"'It is the smell which Man makes so that other people may know where he
is and keep away from him,' she said, for my mother had never been
friends with Man and she did not know any better.

"Then we came up over the ridge and saw them, about a score, naked and
dancing on the naked front of the hill. They had a fire in their midst
from which the blue smell went up, and as they danced they sang--

"'Hail, moon, young moon!
Hail, hail, young moon!
Bring me something that I wish,
Hail, moon, hail!'

"--catching up fire-sticks in their hands and tossing them toward the
tusk of the moon. That was how they made the moon grow, by working fire
into it, so my man told me afterwards. But it was not until I began to
walk by myself that he found me.

"I had come up from the lower hills all one day," said the Mastodon.
"There was a feel in the air as if the Great Cold had breathed into it.
It curdled blue as pond water, and under the blueness the forest color
showed like weed under water. I walked by myself and did not care who
heard me. Now and then I tore up a young tree, for my tusks had grown
fast that year and it was good to feel the tree tug at its roots and
struggle with me. Farther up, the wind walked on the dry leaves with a
sound like a thousand wapiti trooping down the mountain. Every little
while, for want of something to do, I charged it. Then I carried a pine,
which I had torn up, on my tusks, until the butt struck a boulder which
went down the hill with an avalanche of small stones that set all the
echoes shouting.

"In the midst of it I lifted up my voice and said that I was I, Arrumpa,
walking by myself,--and just then a dart struck me. The men had come up
under cover of the wind on either side so that there was nothing for me
to do but to move forward, which I did, somewhat hurriedly.

"I had not come to my full size then, but I was a good weight for my
years," said Arrumpa modestly,--"a very good weight, and it was my
weight that saved me, for the edge of the ravine that opened suddenly in
front of me crumbled, so that I came down into the bottom of it with a
great mass of rubbish and broken stone, with a twisted knee, and very
much astonished.

"I remember blowing to get the blood and dust out of my eyes,--there was
a dart stuck in my forehead,--and seeing the men come swarming over the
edge of the ravine, which was all walled in on every side, shaking their
spears and singing. That was the way with men; whatever they did they
had to sing about it. 'Ha-ahe-ah!' they sang--

"'Great Chief, you're about to die,
The Gods have said it.'

"So they came capering, but there was blood in my eyes and my knee hurt
me, so when one of them stuck his spear almost up to the haft in my
side, I tossed him. I took him up lightly on my tusks and he lay still
at the far end of the ravine where I had dropped him. That stopped the
shouting; but it broke out again suddenly, for the women had come down
the wild vines on the walls, with their young on their shoulders, and
the wife of the man I had tossed found him. The noise of the hunters was
as nothing to the noise she made at me. Madness overtook her; she left
off howling over her man and seizing her son by the hand,--he was no
more than half-grown, not up to my shoulder,--she pushed him in front of
me. 'Take him! Take my son, Man-Killer!' she screamed. 'After you have
taken the best of the tribe, will you stop at a youngling?' Then all the
others screeched at her like gulls frightened from their rock, and
stopped silent in great fear to see what I would do about it.

"I did not know what to do, for there was no way I could tell her I was
sorry I had killed her husband; and the lad stood where she had pushed
him, not making any noise at all but a sharp, steady breathing. So I
took him up in my trunk, for, indeed, I did not know what to do, and as
I held him at the level of my eyes, I saw a strange thing,--that the boy
was not afraid. He was not in the least afraid, but very angry.

"'I hate you, Arrumpa,' he said, 'because you have killed my father. I
am too little to kill you for it now, but when I am a man I shall kill
you.' He struck me with his fists. 'Put me down, Man-Killer!'

"So I put him down. What else was there to do? And there was a sensation
in my breast, a sensation as of bending the knees and bowing the
neck--not at all unpleasant--He stood where I placed him, between my
tusks, and one of the hunters, who was a man in authority, called out to
him to come away while they killed me.

"'That you shall not,' said my manling, 'for he has killed my father,
therefore he is mine to kill according to the custom of killing.'

"Then the man was angry.

"'Come away, little fool,' he said. 'He is our meat. Have we not
followed him for three days and trapped him?'

"The boy looked at him under his brows, drawn level.

"'That was my father's spear that stuck in him, Opata,' he said.

"Now, as the man spoke, I began to see what they had done to me these
three days, for there was no way out of the ravine, and the women had
brought their fleshing-knives and baskets: but the boy was quicker even
than my anger. He reached up a hand to either of my tusks,--he could
barely lay hands on them,--and his voice shook, though I do not think it
was with anger. 'He is mine to kill,' he said, 'according to custom. He
is my Arrumpa, and I call the tribe to witness. Not one of you shall lay
hands on him until one of us has killed the other.'

"Then I lifted up my trunk over him, for my heart swelled against the
hunters, and I gave voice as a bull should when he walks by himself.

"'Arr-rr-ump!' I said. And the people were all silent with astonishment.

"Finally the man who had first spoken, spoke again, very humbly, 'Great
Chief, give us leave to take away your father.' So we gave them leave.
They took the hurt man--his back was broken--away by the vine ladders,
and my young man went and lay face down where his father had lain, and
shook with many strange noises while water came out of his eyes. When he
sat up at last and saw me blowing dust on the spear-cut in my side to
stop the bleeding, he gathered broad leaves, dipped them in pine gum,
and laid them on the cut. Then I blew dust on these, and seeing that I
was more comfortable, Taku-Wakin--that was what I learned to call
him--saluted with both hands to his head, palms outward. 'Friend,' he
said,--'for if you are not my friend I think I have not one other in the
world,--besides, I am too little to kill you,--I go to bury my father.'

"For three days I bathed my knee in the spring, and saw faces come to
peer about the edge of it and heard the beat of the village drums. The
third day my young man came, wearing his father's collar of bear's
teeth, with neither fire-stick nor food nor weapon upon him. "'Now I am
all the man my mother has,' he said; 'I must do what is necessary to
become a tribesman.'

"I did not know then what he meant, but it seems it was a custom."

All the Indians in the group that had gathered about the Mastodon,
nodded at this.

"It was so in my time," said the Mound-Builder. "When a youth has come
to the age where he is counted a man, he goes apart and neither eats nor
drinks until, in the shape of some living thing, the Great Mystery has
revealed itself to him.

"It was so he explained it to me," agreed Arrumpa; "and for three days
he ate and drank nothing, but walked by himself talking to his god.
Other times he would talk to me, scratching my hurts and taking the
ticks out of my ears, until--I do not know what it was, but between me
and Taku-Wakin it happened that we understood, each of us, what the
other was thinking in his heart as well as if we had words--Is this also
a custom?"

A look of intelligence passed between the members of his audience.

"Once to every man," said an Indian who leaned against Moke-icha's
boulder, "when he shuts all thought of killing out of his heart and
gives himself to the beast as to a brother, knowledge which is different
from the knowledge of the chase comes to both of them.

"Oh," said Oliver, "I had a dog once--" But he became very much
embarrassed when he discovered that he had drawn the attention of the
company. It had always been difficult for him to explain why it was he
had felt so certain that his dog and he had always known what the other
was thinking; but the Indians and the animals understood him.

"All this Taku explained to me," went on Arrumpa. "The fourth day, when
Taku fainted for lack of food, I cradled him in my tusks and was greatly
troubled. At last I laid him on the fresh grass by the spring and blew
water on him. Then he sat up laughing and spluttering, but faintly.

"'Now am I twice a fool,' he said, 'not to know from the first that you
are my Medicine, the voice of the Mystery.'

"Then he shouted for his mother, who came down from the top of the
ravine, very timidly, and fed him.

"After that he would come to me every day, sometimes with a bough of
wild apples or a basket of acorns, and I would set him on my neck so he
could scratch between my ears and tell me all his troubles. His father,
he said, had been a strong man who put himself at the head of the five
chiefs of the tribe and persuaded them to leave off fighting one another
and band together against the enemy tribes. Opata, the man who had
wished to kill me, was the man likeliest to be made High Chief in his
father's place.

"'And then my bad days will begin,' said Taku-Wakin, 'for he hates me
for my father's sake, and also a little for yours, Old Two-Tails, and he
will persuade the Council to give my mother to another man and I shall
be made subject to him. Worse,' he said,--'the Great Plan of my father
will come to nothing.'

"He was always talking about this Great Plan and fretting over it, but I
was too new to the customs of men to ask what he meant by it.

"'If I had but a Sign,' he said, 'then they would give me my father's
place in the Council ... but I am too little, and I have not yet killed
anything worth mentioning.'

"So he would sit on my neck and drum with his heels while he thought,
and there did not seem to be anything I could do about it. By this time
my knee was quite well. I had eaten all the brush in the ravine and was
beginning to be lonely. Taku wasn't able to visit me so often, for he
had his mother and young brothers to kill for.

"So one night when the moon came walking red on the trail of the day,
far down by Two Rivers I heard some of my friends trumpeting; therefore
I pulled down young trees along the sides of the ravine, with great
lumps of earth, and battered the rotten cliffs until they crumbled in a
heap by which I scrambled up again.

"I must have traveled a quarter of the moon's course before I heard the
patter of bare feet in the trail and a voice calling:--

"'Up! Take me up, Arrumpa!'

"So I took him up, quite spent with running, and yet not so worn out but
that he could smack me soundly between the eyes, as no doubt I deserved.

"'Beast of a bad heart,' he said, 'did I not tell you that to-morrow the
moon is full and the Five Chiefs hold Council?' So he had, but my thick
wits had made nothing of it. 'If you leave me this night,' said Taku,
'then they will say that my Medicine has left me and my father's place
will be given to Opata.'

"'Little Chief,' I said, 'I did not know that you had need of me, but it
came into my head that I also had need of my own people. Besides, the
brush is eaten.'

"'True, true!' he said, and drummed on my forehead. 'Take me home,' he
said at last, 'for I have followed you half the night, and I must not
seem wearied at the Council.'

"So I took him back as far as the Arch Rock which springs high over the
trail by which the men of Taku's village went out to the hunting. There
was a cleft under the wing of the Arch, close to the cliff, and every
man going out to the hunt threw a dart at it, as an omen. If it stuck,
the omen was good, but if the point of the dart broke against the face
of the cliff and fell back, the hunter returned to his hut, and if he
hunted at all that day, he went out in another direction. We could see
the shafts of the darts fast in the cleft, bristling in the moonlight.

"'Wait here, under the Arch,' said Taku-Wakin, 'till I see if the arrow
of my thought finds a cleft to stick into.'

"So we waited, watching the white, webby moons of the spiders, wet in
the grass, and the man huts sleeping on the hill, and felt the Dawn's
breath pricking the skin of our shoulders. The huts were mere heaps of
brush like rats' nests.

"'Shall I walk on the huts for a sign, Little Chief?' said I.

"'Not that, Old Hilltop,' he laughed; 'there are people under the huts,
and what good is a Sign without people?'

"Then he told me how his father had become great by thinking, not for
his own clan alone, but for all the people--it was because of the long
reach of his power that they called him Long-Hand. Now that he was gone
there would be nothing but quarrels and petty jealousies. 'They will
hunt the same grounds twice over,' said Taku-Wakin; 'they will kill one
another when they should be killing their enemies, and in the end the
Great Cold will get them.'

"Every year the Great Cold crept nearer. It
came like a strong arm and pressed the people west and south so that the
tribes bore hard on one another.

"'Since old time,' said Taku-Wakin, 'my people have been sea people. But
the People of the Great Cold came down along the ice-rim and cut them
off from it. My father had a plan to get to the sea, and a Talking Stick
which he was teaching me to understand, but I cannot find it in any of
the places where he used to hide it. If I had the Stick I think they
would make me chief in my father's place. But if Opata is made chief,
then I must give it to him if I find it, and Opata will have all the
glory. If I had but a Sign to keep them from making Opata chief...' So
he drummed on my head with his heels while I leaned against the Arch
Rock--oh, yes, I can sleep very comfortably, standing--and the moon slid
down the hill until it shone clear under the rock and touched the
feathered butts of the arrows. Then Taku woke me.

"'Up, put me up, Arrumpa! For now I have thought of a Sign that even the
Five Chiefs will have respect for.'

"So I put him up until his foot caught in the cleft of the rock and he
pried out five of the arrows.

"'Arrows of the Five Chiefs,' he said,--'that the chiefs gave to the
gods to keep, and the gods have given to me again!'

"That was the way always with Taku-Wakin, he kept all the god customs of
the people, but he never doubted, when he had found what he wanted to
do, that the gods would be on his side. He showed me how every arrow was
a little different from the others in the way the blood drain was cut or
the shaft feathered.

"'No fear,' he said. 'Every man will know his own when I come to the

"He hugged the arrows to his breast and laughed over them, so I hugged
him with my trunk, and we agreed that once in every full moon I was to
come to Burnt Woods, and wait until he called me with something that he
took from his girdle and twirled on a thong. I do not know what it was
called, but it had a voice like young thunder.

"Like this?" The Mound-Builder cut the air with an oddly shaped bit of
wood swung on an arm's-length of string, once lightly, like a covey of
quail rising, and then loud like a wind in the full-branched forest.

"Just such another. Thrice he swung it so that I might not mistake the
sound, and that was the last I saw of him, hugging his five arrows, with
the moon gone pale like a meal-cake, and the tame wolves that skulk
between the huts for scraps, slinking off as he spoke to them."

"And did they--the Five Chiefs, I mean--have respect for his arrows?"
Dorcas Jane wondered.

"So he told me. They came from all the nine villages and sat in a
council ring, each with the elders of his village behind him, and in
front his favorite weapon, tied with eagle feathers for enemies he had
slain, and red marks for battles, and other signs and trophies. At the
head of the circle there was the spear of Long-Hand, and a place left
for the one who should be elected to sit in it. But before the Council
had time to begin, came Taku-Wakin with his arms folded--though he told
me it was to hide how his heart jumped in his bosom--and took his
father's seat. Around the ring of the chiefs and elders ran a growl like
the circling of thunder in sultry weather, and immediately it was turned
into coughing; every man trying to eat his own exclamation, for, as he
sat, Taku laid out, in place of a trophy, the five arrows.

"'Do we sit at a game of knuckle-bone?' said Opata at last, 'or is this
a Council of the Elders?'

"'Game or Council,' said Taku-Wakin, 'I sit in my father's place until I
have a Sign from him whom he will have to sit there.'"

"But I don't understand--" began Oliver, looking about the circle of
listening Indians. "His father was dead, wasn't he?"

"What is 'dead'?" said the Lenni-Lenape; "Indians do not know. Our
friends go out of their bodies; where? Into another--or into a beast?
When I was still strapped in my basket my father set me on a bear that
he had killed and prayed that the bear's cunning and strength should
pass into me. Taku-Wakin's people thought that the heart of Long-Hand
might have gone into the Mastodon."

"Why not?" agreed Arrumpa gravely. "I remember that Taku would call me
Father at times, and--if he was very fond of me--Grandfather. But all he
wanted at that tune was to keep Opata from being elected in his father's
place, and Opata, who understood this perfectly, was very angry.

"'It is the custom,' he said, 'when a chief sleeps in the High
Places,'--he meant the hilltops where they left their dead on poles or
tied to the tree branches,--'that we elect another to his place in
the Council.'

"'Also it is a custom,' said Taku-Wakin, 'to bring the token of his
great exploit into Council and quicken the heart by hearing of it. You
have heard, O Chiefs," he said, "that my people had a plan for the good
of the people, and it has come to me in my heart that that plan was
stronger in him than death. For he was a man who finished what he had
begun, and it may be that he is long-handed enough to reach back from
the place where he has gone. And this is a Sign to me, that he has taken
his cut stick, which had the secret of his plan, with him.'

"Taku-Wakin fiddled with the arrows, laying them straight, hardly daring
to look up at Opata, for if the chief had his father's cut stick, now
would be the time that he would show it. Out of the tail of his eye he
could see that the rest of the Council were startled. That was the way
with men. Me they would trap, and take the skin of Saber-Tooth to wrap
their cubs in, but at the hint of a Sign, or an old custom slighted,
they would grow suddenly afraid. Then Taku looked up and saw Opata
stroking his face with his hand to hide what he was thinking. He was no
fool, and he saw that if the election was pressed, Taku-Wakin, boy as he
was, would sit in his father's place because of the five arrows.
Taku-Wakin stood up and stretched out his hand to the Council.

"'Is it agreed, O Chiefs, that you keep my father's place until there is
a Sign?'--and a deep _Hu-huh_ ran all about the circle. It was sign
enough for them that the son of Long-Hand played unhurt with arrows that
had been given to the gods. Taku stretched his hand to Opata, 'Is it
agreed, O Chief?'

"'So long as the tribe comes to no harm,' said Opata, making the best of
a bad business. 'It shall be kept until Long-Hand or his Talking Rod
comes back to us.'

"'And,' said Taku-Wakin to me, 'whether Opata or I first sits in it,
depends on which one of us can first produce a Sign.'"

[Illustration: TAKU AND ARRUMPA.]



"It was the Talking Stick of his father that Taku-Wakin wanted," said
Arrumpa. "He still thought Opata might have it, for every now and then
Taku would catch him coming back with marsh mud on his moccasins. That
was how I began to understand that the Great Plan was really a plan to
find a way _through_ the marsh to the sea on the other side of it.

"'Opata has the Stick,' said Taku, 'but it will not talk to him;
therefore he goes, as my father did, when the waters are low and the
hummocks of hard ground stand up, to find a safe way for the tribe to
follow. But my father had worked as far as the Grass Flats and beyond
them, to a place of islands.'

"'Squidgy Islands,' I told him. 'The Grass-Eaters go there to drop their
calves every season.' Taku kicked me behind the ears.

"'Said I not you were a beast of a bad heart!' he scolded. But how
should I know he would care to hear about a lot of silly Mammoths.
'Also,' he said, 'you are my Medicine. You shall find me the trail of
the Talking Stick, and I, Taku, son of Long-Hand, shall lead
the people.'

"'In six moons,' I told him, 'the Grass-Eaters go to the Islands to

"'In which time,' said Taku, 'the chiefs will have quarreled six times,
and Opata will have eaten me. Drive them, Arrumpa, drive them!'

"Umph, uh-ump!" chuckled the old beast reminiscently. "We drove; we
drove. What else was there to do? Taku-Wakin was my man. Besides, it was
great fun. One-Tusk helped me. He was one of our bachelor herd who had
lost a tusk in his first fight, which turned out greatly to his
advantage. He would come sidling up to a refractory young cow with his
eyes twinkling, and before anybody suspected he could give such a prod
with his one tusk as sent her squealing.... But that came afterward. The
Mammoth herd that fed on our edge of the Great Swamp was led by a
wrinkled old cow, wise beyond belief. Scrag we called her. She would
take the herd in to the bedding-ground by the river, to a landing-point
on the opposite side, never twice the same, and drift noiselessly
through the canebrake, choosing blowy hours when the swish of cane over
woolly backs was like the run of the wind. Days when the marsh would be
full of tapirs wallowing and wild pig rootling and fighting, there might
be hundreds feeding within sound of you and not a hint of it except the
occasional _toot-toot_ of some silly cow calling for Scrag, or a young
bull blowing water.

"They bedded at the Grass Flats, but until Scrag herself had a mind to
take the trail to the Squidgy Islands, there was nobody but Saber-Tooth
could persuade her.

"'Then Saber-Tooth shall help us,' said my man.

"Not for nothing was he called Taku-Wakin, which means 'The Wonderful.'
He brought a tiger cub's skin of his father's killing, dried stiff and
sewed up with small stones inside it. At one end there was a thong with
a loop in it, and it smelled of tiger. I could see the tip of One-Tusk's
trunk go up with a start every time he winded it. There was a curled
moon high up in the air like a feather, and a moon-white tusk glinting
here and there, where the herds drifted across the flats. There was no
trouble about our going among them so long as Scrag did not wind us.
_They_ claimed to be kin to us, and they cared nothing for Man even when
they smelled him. We came sidling up to a nervous young cow, and Taku
dropped from my neck long enough to slip the thong over a hind foot as
she lifted it. The thong was wet at first and scarcely touched her.
Presently it tightened. Then the cow shook her foot to free it and the
skin rattled. She squealed nervously and started out to find Scrag, who
was feeding on the far side of the hummock, and at every step the
tiger-skin rattled and bounced against her. Eyes winked red with alarm
and trunks came lifting out of the tall grass like serpents. One-Tusk
moved silently, prod-prodding; we could hear the click of ivory and the
bunting of shoulder against shoulder. Then some silly cow had a whiff of
the skin that bounded along in their tracks like a cat, and raised the
cry of 'Tiger! Tiger!' Far on the side from us, in the direction of the
Squidgy Islands, Scrag trumpeted, followed by frantic splashing as the
frightened herd plunged into the reed-beds. Taku slipped from my neck,
shaking with laughter.

"'Follow, follow,' he said; 'I go to bring up the people.'

"It was two days before Scrag stopped running.

"From the Grass Flats on to the Islands it was all one reed-bed where
the water gathered into runnels between hummocks of rotten rushes, where
no trail would lie and any false step might plunge you into black bog to
the shoulder. About halfway we found the tiger-skin tramped into the
mire, but as soon as we struck the Islands I turned back, for I was in
need of good oak browse, and I wished to find out what had become of
Taku-Wakin. It was not until one evening when I had come well up into
the hills for a taste of fir, that I saw him, black against the sun with
the tribe behind him. The Five Chiefs walked each in front of his own
village, except that Taku-Wakin's own walked after Opata, and there were
two of the Turtle clan, each with his own head man, and two under
Apunkwis. Before all walked Taku-Wakin holding a peeled stick upright
and seeing the end of the trail, but not what lay close in front of him.
He did not even see me as I slipped around the procession and left a wet
trail for him to follow.

"That was how we crossed to the Islands, village by village, with
Taku-Wakin close on my trail, which was the trail of the Grass-Eaters.
They swam the sloughs with their children on their shoulders, and made
rafts of reeds to push their food bundles over. By night they camped on
the hummocks and built fires that burned for days in the thick litter of
reeds. Red reflections glanced like fishes along the water. Then there
would be the drums and the--the thunder-twirler--"

"But what kept him so long and how did he persuade them?" Dorcas Jane
squirmed with curiosity.

"He'd been a long time working out the trail through the canebrake,"
said Arrumpa, "making a Talking Stick as his father had taught him; one
ring for a day's journey, one straight mark for so many man's paces;
notches for turns. When he could not remember his father's marks he made
up others. When he came to his village again he found they had all gone
over to Opata's. Apunkwis, who had the two villages under Black Rock
and was a friend of Long-Hand, told him that there would be a Sign.

"'There will,' said Taku-Wakin, 'but I shall bring it.' He knew that
Opata meant mischief, but he could not guess what. All the way to
Opata's his thought went round and round like a fire-stick in the
hearth-hole. When he heard the drums he flared up like a spark in the
tinder. Earlier in the evening there had been a Big Eating at Opata's,
and now the men were dancing.

"'_Eyah, eyah!_' they sang.

"Taku-Wakin whirled like a spark into the ring. '_Eyah, eyah!_' he

"'Great are the people
They have found a sign,
The sign of the Talking Rod!
Eyah! My people!'

"He planted it full in the firelight where it rocked and beckoned.
'_Eyah_, the rod is calling,' he sang.

"The moment he had sight of Opata's face he knew that whatever the chief
had meant to do, he did not have his father's Stick. Taku caught up his
own and twirled it, and finally he hid it under his coat, for if any one
had handled it he could have seen that this was not the Stick of
Long-Hand, but fresh-peeled that season. But because Opata wanted the
Stick of Long-Hand, he thought any stick of Taku's must be the one he
wanted. And what Opata thought, the rest of the tribe thought also. So
they rose up by clans and villages and followed after the Sign. That was
how we came to the Squidgy Islands. There were willows there and young
alders and bare knuckles of rock holding up the land.

"Beyond that the Swamp began; the water gathered itself into bayous that
went slinking, wolflike, between the trees, or rose like a wolf through
the earth and stole it from under your very foot. It doubled into black
lagoons to doze, and young snakes coiled on the lily-pads, so that when
the sun warmed them you could hear the shi-shisi-ss like a wind rising.
Also by night there would be greenish lights that followed the trails
for a while and went out suddenly in whistling noises. Now and then in
broad day the Swamp would fall asleep. There would be the plop of
turtles falling into the creek and the slither of alligators in the mud,
and all of a sudden not a ripple would start, and between the clacking
of one reed and another would come the soundless lift and stir of the
Swamp snoring. Then the hair on your neck would rise, and some man
caught walking alone in it would go screaming mad with fear.

"Six moons we had to stay in that place, for Scrag had hidden the herd
so cleverly that it was not until the week-old calves began to squeak
for their mothers that we found them. And from the time they were able
to run under their mother's bodies, One-Tusk and I kept watch and watch
to see that they did not break back to the Squidgy Islands. It was
necessary for Taku-Wakin's plan that they should go out on the other
side where there was good land between the Swamp and the Sea, not
claimed by the Kooskooski. We learned to eat grass that summer and
squushy reeds with no strength in them--did I say that all the
Grass-Eaters were pot-bellied? Also I had to reason with One-Tusk, who
had not loved a man, and found that the Swamp bored him. By this time,
too, Scrag knew what we were after; she covered her trail and crossed it
as many times as a rabbit. Then, just as we thought we had it, the wolf
water came and gnawed the trail in two.

"Taku-Wakin would come to me by the Black Lagoon and tell me how Opata
worked to make himself chief of the nine villages. He had his own and
Taku-Wakin's, for Taku had never dared to ask it back again, and the
chief of the Turtle clan was Opata's man.

"'He tells the people that my Stick will not talk to me any more. But
how can it talk, Arrumpa, when you have nothing to tell it?'

"'Patience,' I said. 'If we press the cows too hard they will break back
the way they have come, and that will be worse than waiting.'

"'And if I do not get them forward soon,' said Taku-Wakin, 'the people
will break back, and my father will be proved a fool. I am too little
for this thing, Grandfather,' he would say, leaning against my trunk,
and I would take him up and comfort him.

"As for Opata, I used to see him sometimes, dancing alone to increase
his magic power,--I speak but as the people of Taku-Wakin spoke,--and
once at the edge of the lagoon, catching snakes. Opata had made a noose
of hair at the end of a peeled switch, and he would snare them as they
darted like streaks through the water. I saw him cast away some that he
caught, and others he dropped into a wicker basket, one with a narrow
neck such as women used for water. How was I to guess what he wanted
with them? But the man smelled of mischief. It lay in the thick air like
the smell of the lagoons; by night you could hear it throbbing with the
drums that scared away the wandering lights from the nine villages.

"Scrag was beginning to get the cows together again; but by that time
the people had made up their minds to stay where they were. They built
themselves huts on platforms above the water and caught turtles in
the bayous.

"'Opata has called a Council,' Taku told me, 'to say that I must make my
Stick talk, or they will know me for a deceiver, a maker of short life
for them.'

"'Short life to him,' I said. 'In three nights or four, the Grass-Eaters
will be moving.'

"'And my people are fast in the mud,' said Taku-Wakin. 'I am a mud-head
myself to think a crooked rod could save them.' He took it from his
girdle warped by the wet and the warmth of his body. 'My heart is sick,
Arrumpa, and Opata makes them a better chief than I, for I have only
tried to find them their sea again. But Opata understands them. This is
a foolish tale that will never be finished.'

"He loosed the stick from his hand over the black water like a boy
skipping stones, but--this is a marvel--it turned as it flew and came
back to Taku-Wakin so that he had to take it in his hand or it would
have struck him. He stood looking at it astonished, while the moon came
up and made dart-shaped ripples of light behind the swimming snakes in
the black water. For he saw that if the Stick would not leave him,
neither could he forsake--Is this also known to you?" For he saw the
children smiling.

The Indian who leaned against Moke-icha's boulder drew a crooked stick,
shaped something like an elbow, from under his blanket. Twice he tossed
it lightly and twice it flew over the heads of the circle and back like
a homing pigeon as he lightly caught it.

"Boomerangs!" cried the children, delighted.

"We called it the Stick-which-kills-flying," said the Indian, and hid it
again under his blanket.

"Taku-Wakin thought it Magic Medicine," said the Mastodon. "It was a
Sign to him. Two or three times he threw the stick and always it came
back to him. He was very quiet, considering what it might mean, as I
took him back between the trees that stood knee-deep in the smelly
water. We saw the huts at last, built about in a circle and the sacred
fire winking in the middle. I remembered the time I had watched with
Taku under the Arch Rock.

"'Give me leave,' I said, 'to walk among the huts, and see what will come
of it.'

"Taku-Wakin slapped my trunk.

"'Now by the oath of my people, you shall walk,' he said. 'If the herds
begin to move, and if no hurt comes to anybody by it, you shall walk;
for as long as they are comfortable, even though the Rod should speak,
they would not listen.'

"The very next night Scrag began to move her cows out toward the hard
land, and when I had marked her trail for five man journeys, I came back
to look for Taku-Wakin. There was a great noise of singing a little back
from the huts at the Dancing-Place, and all the drums going, and the
smoke that drifted along the trails had the smell of a Big Eating. I
stole up in the dark till I could look over the heads of the villagers
squatted about the fire. Opata was making a speech to them. He was
working himself into a rage over the wickedness of Taku-Wakin. He would
strike the earth with his stone-headed spear as he talked, and the tribe
would yelp after him like wolves closing in on a buck. If the Talking
Stick which had led them there was not a liar, let it talk again and
show them the way to their sea. Let it talk! And at last, when they had
screeched themselves hoarse, they were quiet long enough to hear it.

"Little and young, Taku-Wakin looked, standing up with his Stick in his
hand, and the words coming slowly as if he waited for them to reach him
from far off. The Stick was no liar, he said; it was he who had lied to
them; he had let them think that this was his father's Stick. It was a
new stick much more powerful, as he would yet show them. And who was he
to make it talk when it would not? Yet it would talk soon...very
soon...he had heard it whispering... Let them not vex the Stick lest it
speak strange and unthought-of things...

"Oh, but he was well called 'The Wonderful.' I could see the heads of
the tribesmen lifting like wolves taking a new scent, and mothers
tighten their clutch on their children. Also I saw Opata. Him I watched,
for he smelt of mischief. His water-basket was beside him, and as the
people turned from baiting Taku-Wakin to believing him, I saw Opata push
the bottle secretly with his spear-butt. It rolled into the cleared
space toward Taku-Wakin, and the grass ball which stopped its mouth fell
out unnoticed. _But no water came out!_

"Many of the waters of the Swamp were bitter and caused sickness, so it
was no new thing for a man to have his own water-bottle at Council. But
why should he carry a stopped bottle and no water in it? Thus I watched,
while Taku-Wakin played for his life with the people's minds, and Opata
watched neither the people nor him, but the unstopped mouth of the

"I looked where Opata looked, for I said to myself, from that point
comes the mischief, and looking I saw a streak of silver pour out of the
mouth of the bottle and coil and lift and make as a snake will for the
nearest shadow. It was the shadow of Taku-Wakin's bare legs. Then I knew
why Opata smelled of mischief when he had caught snakes in the lagoon.
But I was afraid to speak, for I saw that if Taku moved the snake would
strike, and there is no cure for the bite of the snake called
Silver Moccasin.

"Everybody's eyes were on the rod but mine and Opata's, and as I saw
Taku straighten to throw, I lifted my voice in the dark and trumpeted,
'Snake! Snake!' Taku leaped, but he knew my voice and he was not so
frightened as the rest of them, who began falling on their faces. Taku
leaped as the Silver Moccasin lifted to strike, and the stick as it flew
out of his hand, low down like a skimming bird, came back in a
circle--he must have practiced many times with it--and dropped the snake
with its back broken. The people put their hands over their mouths. They
had not seen the snake at all, but a stick that came back to the
thrower's hand was magic. They waited to see what Opata would do
about it.

"Opata stood up. He was a brave man, I think, for the Stick was Magic to
him, also, and yet he stood out against it. Black Magic he said it was,
and no wonder it had not led them out of the Swamp, since it was a false
stick and Taku-Wakin a Two-Talker. Taku-Wakin could no more lead them
out of the Swamp than his stick would leave him. Like it, they would be
thrown and come back to the hand of Taku-Wakin for his own purposes.

"He was a clever man, was Opata. He was a fine tall man, beaked like an
eagle, and as he moved about in the clear space by the fire, making a
pantomime of all he said, as their way is in speech-making, he began to
take hold on the minds of the people. Taku-Wakin watched sidewise; he
saw the snake writhing on the ground and the unstopped water-bottle with
the ground dry under it. I think he suspected. I saw a little ripple go
over his naked body as if a thought had struck him. He stepped aside
once, and as Opata came at him, threatening and accusing, he changed his
place again, ever so slightly. The people yelped as they thought they
saw Taku fall back before him. Opata was shaking his spear, and I began
to wonder if I had not waited too long to come to Taku-Wakin's rescue,
when suddenly Opata stopped still in his tracks and shuddered. He went
gray in the fire-light, and--he was a brave man who knew his death when
he had met it--from beside his foot he lifted up the broken-backed snake
on his spear-point. Even as he held it up for all of them to see, his
limbs began to jerk and stiffen.

"I went back to look for One-Tusk. The end of those who are bitten by
the moccasin is not pretty to see, and besides, I had business. One-Tusk
and I walked through all nine villages...and when we had come out on the
other side there were not two sticks of them laid together. Then the
people came and looked and were afraid, and Taku-Wakin came and made a
sound as when a man drops a ripe paw-paw on the ground. 'Pr-r-utt!' he
said, as though it were no more matter than that. 'Now we shall have the
less to carry.' But the mother of Taku-Wakin made a terrible outcry. In
the place where her hut had been she had found the Talking Stick of
Taku's father, trampled to splinters.

"She had had it all the time hidden in her bundle. Long-Hand had told
her it was Magic Medicine and she must never let any one have it. _She_
thought it was the only thing that had kept her and her children safe on
this journey. But Taku told them that it was his father's Rod which had
bewitched them and kept them from going any farther because it had come
to the end of its knowledge. Now they would be free to follow his own
Stick, which was so much wiser. So he caught their minds as he had
caught the Stick, swinging back from disaster. For this is the way with
men, if they have reason which suits them they do not care whether it is
reasonable or not. It was sufficient for them, one crooked stick being
broken, that they should rise up with a shout and follow another."

Arrumpa was silent so long that the children fidgeted.

"But it couldn't have been just as easy as that," Dorcas insisted. "And
what did they do when they got to the sea finally?"

"They complained of the fishy taste of everything," said Arrumpa; "also
they suffered on the way for lack of food, and Apunkwis was eaten by an
alligator. Then they were afraid again when they came to the place
beyond the Swamp where the water went to and fro as the sea pushed it,
until some of the old men remembered they had heard it was the sea's
custom. Twice daily the water came in as if to feed on the marsh grass.
Great clouds of gulls flew inland, screaming down the wind, and across
the salt flats they had their first sight of the low, hard land.

"We lost them there, for we could not eat the salt grass, and Scrag had
turned north by a mud slough where the waters were bitter, and red moss
grew on the roots of the willows. We ate for a quarter of the moon's
course before we went back around the hard land to see what had become
of Taku-Wakin. We fed as far as there was any browse between the sea and
the marsh, and at last we saw them come, across the salt pastures. They
were sleek as otters with the black slime of the sloughs, and there was
not a garment left on them which had not become water-soaked and
useless. Some of the women had made slips of sea-birds' skins and nets
of marsh grass for carrying their young. It was only by these things
that you could tell that they were Man. They came out where the hard
land thinned to a tusk, thrust far out into the white froth and the
thunder. We saw them naked on the rocks, and then with a great shout
join hands as they ran all together down the naked sand to worship the
sea. But Taku-Wakin walked by himself..."

"And did you stay there with him?" asked Oliver when he saw by the stir
in the audience that the story was quite finished.

"We went back that winter--One-Tusk and I; in time they all went," said
Arrumpa. "It was too cold by the sea in winter. And the land changed.
Even in Taku-Wakin's time it changed greatly. The earth shook and the
water ran out of the marsh into the sea again, and there was hard ground
most of the way to Two Rivers. Every year the tribes used to go down by
it to gather sea food."

The Indians nodded.

"It was so in our time," they said. "There were great heaps of shells by
the sea where we came and dried fish and feasted."

"Shell Mounds," said Oliver. "I've heard of those, too. But I never
thought they had stories about them."

"There is a story about everything," said the Buffalo Chief; and by this
time the children were quite ready to believe him.




"Concerning that Talking Stick of Taku-Wa-kin's,"--said the Coyote, as
the company settled back after Arrumpa's story,--"there is a Telling of
_my_ people ... not of a Rod, but a Skin, a hide of thy people, Great
Chief,"--he bowed to the Bull Buffalo,--"that talked of Tamal-Pyweack
and a Dead Man's Journey--" The little beast stood with lifted paw and
nose delicately pointed toward the Bighorn's country as it lifted from
the prairie, drawing the earth after it in great folds, high crest
beyond high crest flung against the sun; light and color like the inside
of a shell playing in its snow-filled hollows.

Up sprang every Plainsman, painted shield dropped to the shoulder, right
hand lifted, palm outward, and straight as an arrow out of every throat,
the "Hey a-hey a-huh!" of the Indian salutation.

"Backbone of the World!" cried the Blackfoot. "Did you come over that,
Little Brother?"

"Not I, but my father's father's first father. By the Crooked Horn,"--he
indicated a peak like a buffalo horn, and a sag in the crest below it.

"Then that," said Bighorn, dropping with one bound from his aerial
lookout, "should be _my_ story, for my people made that trail, and it
was long before any other trod in it."

"It was of that first treading that the Skin talked," agreed the Coyote.
He looked about the company for permission to begin, and then addressed
himself to Arrumpa. "You spoke, Chief Two-Tails, of the 'tame wolves' of
Taku-Wakin; _were_ they wolves, or--"

"Very like you, Wolfling, now that I think of it," agreed the Mastodon,
"and they were not tame exactly; they ran at the heels of the hunters
for what they could pick up, and sometimes they drove up game for him."

"Why should a coyote, who is the least of all wolves, hunt for himself
when he can find a man to follow?" said the Blackfoot, who sat smoking a
great calumet out of the west corridor. "Man is the wolf's Medicine. In
him he hears the voice of the Great Mystery, and becomes a dog, which is
great gain to him."

Pleased as if his master had patted him, without any further
introduction the Coyote began his story.

"Thus and so thought the First Father of all the Dogs in the year when
he was called Friend-at-the-Back, and Pathfinder. That was the time
of the Great Hunger, nearly two years after he joined the man pack
at Hidden-under-the-Mountain and was still known by his lair name
of Younger Brother. He followed a youth who was the quickest
afoot and the readiest laugher. He would skulk about the camp at
Hidden-under-the-Mountain watching until the hunters went out. Sometimes
How-kawanda--that was the young man he followed--would give a coyote cry
of warning, and sometimes Younger Brother would trot off in the
direction where he knew the game to be, looking back and pointing until
the young men caught the idea; after which, when they had killed, the
hunters would laugh and throw him pieces of liver.

"The Country of Dry Washes lies between the Cinoave on the south and the
People of the Bow who possessed the Salmon Rivers, a great gray land cut
across by deep gullies where the wild waters come down from the
Wall-of-Shining-Rocks and worry the bone-white boulders. The People of
the Dry Washes live meanly, and are meanly spoken of by the People of
the Coast who drove them inland from the sea borders. After the Rains,
when the quick grass sprang up, vast herds of deer and pronghorn come
down from the mountains; and when there were no rains the people ate
lizards and roots. In the moon of the Frost-Touching-Mildly clouds came
up from the south with a great trampling of thunder, and flung out over
the Dry Washes as a man flings his blanket over a maiden. But if the
Rains were scant for two or three seasons, then there was Hunger, and
the dust devils took the mesas for their dancing-places.

"Now, Man tribe and Wolf tribe are alike in one thing. When there is
scarcity the packs increase to make surer of bringing down the quarry,
but when the pinch begins they hunt scattering and avoid one another.
That was how it happened that the First Father, who was still called
Younger Brother, was alone with Howkawanda when he was thrown by a buck
at Talking Water in the moon of the Frost-Touching-Mildly. Howkawanda
had caught the buck by the antlers in a blind gully at the foot of the
Tamal-Pyweack, trying for the throw back and to the left which drops a
buck running, with his neck broken. But his feet slipped on the grass
which grows sleek with dryness, and by the time the First Father came up
the buck had him down, scoring the ground on either side of the man's
body with his sharp antlers, lifting and trampling. Younger Brother
leaped at the throat. The toss of the antlers to meet the stroke drew
the man up standing. Throwing his whole weight to the right he drove
home with his hunting-knife and the buck toppled and fell as a tree
falls of its own weight in windless weather.

"'Now, for this,' said Howkawanda to my First Father, when they had
breathed a little, 'you are become my very brother.' Then he marked the
coyote with the blood of his own hurts, as the custom is when men are
not born of one mother, and Younger Brother, who had never been touched
by a man, trembled. That night, though it made the hair on his neck rise
with strangeness, he went into the hut of Howkawanda at
Hidden-under-the-Mountain and the villagers wagged their heads over it.
'Hunger must be hard on our trail,' they said, 'when the wolves come to
house with us.'

"But Howkawanda only laughed, for that year he had found a maiden who
was more than meat to him. He made a flute of four notes which he would
play, lying out in the long grass, over and over, until she came out to
him. Then they would talk, or the maiden would pull grass and pile it in
little heaps while Howkawanda looked at her and the First Father looked
at his master, and none of them cared where the Rains were.

"But when no rain fell at all, the camp was moved far up the shrunken
creek, and Younger Brother learned to catch grasshoppers, and ate
juniper berries, while the men sat about the fire hugging their lean
bellies and talking of Dead Man's Journey. This they would do whenever
there was a Hunger in the Country of the Dry Washes, and when they were
fed they forgot it."

The Coyote interrupted his own story long enough to explain that though
there were no buffaloes in the Country of the Dry Washes, on the other
side of the Wall-of-Shining-Rocks the land was black with them. "Now and
then stray herds broke through by passes far to the north in the Land of
the Salmon Rivers, but the people of that country would not let
Howkawanda's people hunt them. Every year, when they went up by tribes
and villages to the Tamal-Pyweack to gather pine nuts, the People of the
Dry Washes looked for a possible trail through the Wall to the Buffalo
Country. There was such a trail. Once a man of strange dress and speech
had found his way over it, but he was already starved when they picked
him up at the place called Trap-of-the-Winds, and died before he could
tell anything. The most that was known of this trail at
Hidden-under-the-Mountain was that it led through Knife-Cut Caon; but
at the Wind Trap they lost it.

"I have heard of that trail, 'said the First Father of all the Dogs to
Howkawanda, one day, when they had hunted too far for returning and
spent the night under a juniper: 'a place where the wind tramples
between the mountains like a trapped beast. But there is a trail beyond
it. I have not walked in it. All my people went that way at the
beginning of the Hunger.'

"'For your people there may be a way,' said Howkawanda, 'but for
mine--they are all dead who have looked for it. Nevertheless, Younger
Brother, if we be not dead men ourselves when this Hunger is past, you
and I will go on this Dead Man's Journey. Just now we have other

"It is the law of the Hunger that the strongest must be fed first, so
that there shall always be one strong enough to hunt for the others. But
Howkawanda gave the greater part of his portion to his maiden.

"So it happened that sickness laid hold on Howkawanda between two days.
In the morning he called to Younger Brother. 'Lie outside,' he said,
'lest the sickness take you also, but come to me every day with your
kill, and let no man prevent you.'

"So Younger Brother, who was able to live on juniper berries, hunted
alone for the camp of Hidden-under-the-Mountain, and Howkawanda held
back Death with one hand and gripped the heart of the First Father of
all the Dogs with the other. For he was afraid that if he died, Younger
Brother would turn wolf again, and the tribe would perish. Every day he
would divide what Younger Brother brought in, and after the villagers
were gone he would inquire anxiously and say, 'Do you smell the Rain,
Friend and Brother?'

"But at last he was too weak for asking, and then quite suddenly his
voice was changed and he said, 'I smell the Rain, Little Brother!' For
in those days men could smell weather quite as well as the other
animals. But the dust of his own running was in Younger Brother's nose,
and he thought that his master's mind wandered. The sick man counted on
his fingers. 'In three days,' he said, 'if the Rains come, the back of
the Hunger is broken. Therefore I will not die for three days. Go, hunt,
Friend and Brother.'

"The sickness must have sharpened Howkawanda's senses, for the next day
the coyote brought him word that the water had come back in the gully
where they threw the buck, which was a sign that rain was falling
somewhere on the high ridges. And the next day he brought word, 'The
tent of the sky is building.' This was the tentlike cloud that would
stretch from peak to peak of the Tamal-Pyweack at the beginning of the
Rainy Season.

"Howkawanda rose up in his bed and called the people. 'Go, hunt! go,
hunt!' he said; 'the deer have come back to Talking Water.' Then he lay
still and heard them, as many as were able, going out joyfully. 'Stay
you here, Friend and Brother,' he said, 'for now I can sleep a little.'

"So the First Father of all the Dogs lay at his master's feet and whined
a little for sympathy while the people hunted for themselves, and the
myriad-footed Rain danced on the dry thatch of the hut and the baked
mesa. Later the creek rose in its withered banks and began to talk to
itself in a new voice, the voice of Raining-on-the-Mountain.

"'Now I shall sleep well, 'said the sick man. So he fell into deeper and
deeper pits of slumber while the rain came down in torrents, the grass
sprouted, and far away Younger Brother could hear the snapping of the
brush as the Horned People came down the mountain.

"It was about the first streak of the next morning that the people waked
in their huts to hear a long, throaty howl from Younger Brother.
Howkawanda lay cold, and there was no breath in him. They thought the
coyote howled for grief, but it was really because, though his master
lay like one dead, there was no smell of death about him, and the First
Father was frightened. The more he howled, however, the more certain the
villagers were that Howkawanda was dead, and they made haste to dispose
of the body. Now that the back of the Hunger was broken, they wished to
go back to Hidden-under-the-Mountain.

"They drove Younger Brother away with sticks and wrapped the young man
in fine deerskins, binding them about and about with thongs, with his
knife and his fire-stick and his hunting-gear beside him. Then they made
ready brush, the dryest they could find, for it was the custom of the
Dry Washes to burn the dead. They thought of the Earth as their mother
and would not put anything into it to defile it. The Head Man made a
speech, putting in all the virtues of Howkawanda, and those that he
might have had if he had been spared to them longer, while the women
cast dust on their hair and rocked to and fro howling. Younger Brother
crept as close to the pyre as he dared, and whined in his throat as the
fire took hold of the brush and ran crackling up the open spaces.

"It took hold of the wrapped deerskins, ran in sparks like little deer
in the short hair, and bit through to Howkawanda. But no sooner had he
felt the teeth of the flame than the young man came back from the place
where he had been, and sat up in the midst of the burning. He leaped out
of the fire, and the people scattered like embers and put their hands
over their mouths, as is the way with men when they are astonished.
Howkawanda, wrapped as he was, rolled on the damp sand till the fires
were out, while Younger Brother gnawed him free of the death-wrappings,
and the people's hands were still at their mouths. But the first step he
took toward them they caught up sticks and stones to threaten.

"It was a fearful thing to them that he should come back from being
dead. Besides, the hair was burned half off his head, and he was
streaked raw all down one side where the fire had bitten him. He stood
blinking, trying to pick up their meaning with his eyes. His maiden
looked up from her mother's lap where she wept for him, and fled

"'Dead, go back to the dead!' cried the Head Man, but he did not stop to
see whether Howkawanda obeyed him, for by this time the whole pack was
squealing down the creek to Hidden-under-the-Mountain. Howkawanda looked
at his maiden running fast with the strength of the portion he had saved
for her; looked at the empty camp and the bare hillside; looked once at
the high Wall of the Pyweack, and laughed as much as his burns would
let him.

"'If we two be dead men, Brother,' he said, 'it may be we shall have
luck on a Dead Man's Journey.'

"It would have been better if they could have set out at once, for rain
in the Country of Dry Washes means snow on the Mountain. But they had to
wait for the healing of Howkawanda's burns, and to plump themselves
out a little on the meat--none too fat--that came down on its
own feet before the Rains. They lay in the half-ruined huts and
heard, in the intervals of the storm, the beating of tom-toms at
Hidden-under-the-Mountain to keep off the evil influences of one who had
been taken for dead and was alive again.

"By the time they were able to climb to the top of Knife-Cut Caon the
snow lay over the mountains like a fleece, and at every turn of the wind
it shifted. From the Pass they dropped down into a pit between the
ranges, where, long before they came to it, they could hear the wind
beating about like a trapped creature. Here great mountain-heads had run
together like bucks in autumn, digging with shining granite hooves deep
into the floor of the Caon. Into this the winds would drop from the
high places like broken-winged birds, dashing themselves against the
polished walls of the Pyweack, dashing and falling back and crying
woundedly. There was no other way into this Wind Trap than the way
Howkawanda and Younger Brother had come. If there was any way out only
the Four-Footed People knew it.

"But over all their trails snow lay, deepening daily, and great rivers
of water that fell into the Trap in summer stood frozen stiff like ice
vines climbing the Pyweack.

"The two travelers made them a hut in broad branches of a great fir, for
the snow was more than man-deep already, and crusted over. They laid
sticks on the five-branched whorl and cut away the boughs above them
until they could stand. Here they nested, with the snow on the upper
branches like thatch to keep them safe against the wind. They ran on the
surface of the snow, which was packed firm in the bottom of the Trap,
and caught birds and small game wintering in runways under the snow
where the stiff brush arched and upheld it. When the wind, worn out with
its struggles, would lie still in the bottom of the Trap, the two would
race over the snow-crust whose whiteness cut the eye like a knife,
working into every winding of the Caon for some clue to the Dead
Man's Journey.

[Illustration: "Shot downward to the ledge where Howkawanda and Younger
Brother hugged themselves"]

"On one of these occasions, caught by a sudden storm, they hugged
themselves for three days and ate what food they had, mouthful by
mouthful, while the snow slid past them straight and sodden. It closed
smooth over the tree where their house was, to the middle branches. Two
days more they waited until the sun by day and the cold at night had
made a crust over the fresh fall. On the second day they saw something
moving in the middle of the Caon. Half a dozen wild geese had been
caught in one of the wind currents that race like rivers about the High
Places of the World, and dropped exhausted into the Trap. Now they rose
heavily; but, starved and blinded, they could not pitch their flight to
that great height. Round and round they beat, and back they dropped from
the huge mountain-heads, bewildered. Finally, the leader rose alone
higher and higher in that thin atmosphere until the watchers almost lost
him, and then, exhausted, shot downward to the ledge where Howkawanda
and Younger Brother hugged themselves in the shelter of a wind-driven
drift. They could see the gander's body shaken all over with the pumping
of his heart as Younger Brother took him hungrily by the neck.

"'Nay, Brother,' said Howkawanda, 'but I also have been counted dead,
and it is in my heart that this one shall serve us better living than
dead.' He nursed the great white bird in his bosom and fed it with the
last of their food and a little snow-water melted in his palm. In an
hour, rested and strengthened, the bird rose again, beating a wide
circle slowly and steadily upward, until, with one faint honk of
farewell, it sailed slowly out of sight between the peaks, sure of its

"'That way,' said Howkawanda, 'lies Dead Man's Journey.'

"When they came back over the same trail a year later, they were
frightened to see what steeps and crevices they had covered. But for
that first trip the snow-crust held firm while they made straight for
the gap in the peaks through which the wild goose had disappeared. They
traveled as long as the light lasted, though their hearts sobbed and
shook with the thin air and the cold.

"The drifts were thinner, and the rocks came through with clusters of
wind-slanted cedars. By nightfall snow began again, and they moved,
touching, for they could not see an arm's length and dared not stop lest
the snow cover them. And the hair along the back of Younger Brother
began to prick.

"'Here I die, indeed,' said Howkawanda at last, for he suffered most
because of his naked skin. He sank down in the soft snow at Younger
Brother's shoulder.

"'Up, Master,' said Younger Brother, 'I hear something.'

"'It is the Storm Spirit singing my death song,' said Howkawanda. But
the coyote took him by the neck of his deerskin shirt and dragged him
a little.

"'Now,' he said, 'I smell something.'

"Presently they stumbled into brush and knew it for red cedar. Patches
of it grew thick on the high ridges, matted close for cover. As the
travelers crept under it they heard the rustle of shoulder against
shoulder, the moving click of horns, and the bleat of yearlings for
their mothers. They had stumbled in the dark on the bedding-place of a
flock of Bighorn.

"'Now we shall also eat,' said Younger Brother, for he was quite empty.

"The hand of Howkawanda came out and took him firmly by the loose skin
between the shoulders.

"'There was a coyote once who became brother to a man,' he said, 'and
men, when they enter a strange house in search of shelter and direction,
do not first think of killing.'

"'One blood we are,' said the First Father of Dogs, remembering how
Howkawanda had marked him,' but we are not of one smell and the rams may
trample me.'

"Howkawanda took off his deerskin and put around the coyote so that he
should have man smell about him, for at that time the Bighorn had not
learned to fear man.

"They could hear little bleats of alarm from the ewes and the huddling
of the flock away from them, and the bunting of the Chief Ram's horns on
the cedars as he came to smell them over. Younger Brother quivered, for
he could think of nothing but the ram's throat, the warm blood and the
tender meat, but the finger of Howkawanda felt along his shoulders for
the scar of the Blood-Mixing, the time they had killed the buck at
Talking Water. Then the First Father of all the Dogs understood that Man
was his Medicine and his spirit leaped up to lick the face of the man's
spirit. He lay still and felt the blowing in and out of Howkawanda's
long hair on the ram's breath, as he nuzzled them from head to heel.
Finally the Bighorn stamped twice with all his four feet together, as a
sign that he had found no harm in the strangers. They could feel the
flock huddling back, and the warmth of the packed fleeces. In the midst
of it the two lay down and slept till morning.

"They were alone in the cedar shelter when they woke, but the track of
the flock in the fresh-fallen snow led straight over the crest under the
Crooked Horn to protected slopes, where there was still some browse and
open going.

"Toward nightfall they found an ancient wether the weight of whose horns
had sunk him deep in the soft snow, so that he could neither go forward
nor back. Him they took. It was pure kindness, for he would have died
slowly otherwise of starvation. That is the Way Things Are," said the
Coyote; "when one _must_ kill, killing is allowed. But before they
killed him they said certain words.

"Later," the Coyote went on, "they found a deer occasionally and
mountain hares. Their worst trouble was with the cold. Snow lay deep
over the dropped timber and the pine would not burn. Howkawanda would
scrape together moss and a few twigs for a little fire to warm the front
of him and Younger Brother would snuggle at his back, so between two
friends the man saved himself."

The Blackfoot nodded. "Fire is a very old friend of Man," he said; "so
old that the mere sight of it comforts him; they have come a long way
together." "Now I know," said Oliver, "why you called the first dog

"Oh, but there was more to it than that," said the Coyote, "for the next
difficulty they had was to carry their food when they found it.
Howkawanda had never had good use of his shoulder since the fire bit it,
and even a buck's quarter weights a man too much in loose snow. So he
took a bough of fir, thick-set with little twigs, and tied the kill on
that. This he would drag behind him, and it rode lightly over the
surface of the drifts. When the going was bad, Younger Brother would try
to tug a little over his shoulder, so at last Howkawanda made a harness
for him to pull straight ahead. Hours when they would lie storm-bound
under the cedars, he whittled at the bough and platted the twigs
together till it rode easily.

"In the moon of Tender Leaves, the people of the Buffalo Country, when
they came up the hills for the spring kill, met a very curious
procession coming down. They saw a man with no clothes but a few tatters
of deerskin, all scarred down one side of his body, and following at his
back a coyote who dragged a curiously plaited platform, by means of two
poles harnessed across his shoulders. It was the first travoise. The men
of the Buffalo Country put their hands over their mouths, for they had
never seen anything like it."

The Coyote waited for the deep "huh-huh" of approval which circled the
attentive audience at the end of the story.

"Fire and a dog!" said the Blackfoot, adding a little pinch
of sweet-grass to his smoke as a sign of thankfulness,--
"Friend-on-the-Hearth and Friend-at-the-Back! Man may go far with them."

Moke-icha turned her long flanks to the sun. "Now I thought the tale
began with a mention of a Talking Skin--"

"Oh, that!" The Coyote recalled himself. "After he had been a year in
the Buffalo Country, Howkawanda went back to carry news of the trail to
the Dry Washes. All that summer he worked over it while his dogs hunted
for him--for Friend-at-the-Back had taken a mate and there were four
cubs to run with them. Every day, as Howkawanda worked out the trail, he
marked it with stone and tree-blazes. With colored earth he marked it on
a buffalo skin; from the Wind Trap to the Buffalo Country.

"When he came to Hidden-under-the-Mountain he left his dogs behind, for
he said, 'Howkawanda is a dead man to them.' In the Buffalo Country he
was known as Two-Friended, and that was his name afterward. He was
dressed after the fashion of that country, with a great buffalo robe
that covered him, and his face was painted. So he came to
Hidden-under-the-Mountain as a stranger and made signs to them. And when
they had fed him, and sat him in the chief place as was the custom with
strangers, he took the writing from under his robe to give it to the
People of the Dry Washes. There was a young woman near by nursing her
child, and she gave a sudden sharp cry, for she was the one that had
been his maiden, and under the edge of his robe she saw his scars. But
when Howkawanda looked hard at her she pretended that the child had
bitten her."

Dorcas Jane and Oliver drew a long breath when they saw that, so far as
the rest of the audience was concerned, the story was finished. There
were a great many questions they wished to ask,--as to what became of
Howkawanda after that, and whether the People of the Dry Washes ever
found their way into the Buffalo Country,--but before they could begin
on them, the Bull Buffalo stamped twice with his fore-foot for a sign of
danger. Far down at the other end of the gallery they could hear the
watchman coming.




It was one of those holidays, when there isn't any school and the Museum
is only opened for a few hours in the afternoon, that Dorcas Jane had
come into the north gallery of the Indian room where her father was at
work mending the radiators. This was about a week after the children's
first adventure on the Buffalo Trail, but it was before the holes had
been cut in the Museum wall to let you look straight across the bend in
the Colorado and into the Hopi pueblo. Dorcas looked at all the wall
cases and wondered how it was the Indians seemed to have so much corn
and so many kinds of it, for she had always thought of corn as a
civilized sort of thing to have. She sat on a bench against the wall
wondering, for the lovely clean stillness of the room encouraged
thinking, and the clink of her father's hammers on the pipes fell
presently into the regular _tink-tink-a-tink_ of tortoise-shell rattles,
keeping time to the shuffle and beat of bare feet on the dancing-place
by the river. The path to it led across a clearing between little
hillocks of freshly turned earth, and the high forest overhead was
bursting into tiny green darts of growth like flame. The rattles were
sewed to the leggings of the women--little yellow and black
land-tortoise shells filled with pebbles--who sang as they danced and
cut themselves with flints until they bled.

"Oh," said Dorcas, without waiting to be introduced, "what makes you do

"To make the corn grow," said the tallest and the handsomest of the
women, motioning to the others to leave off their dancing while she
answered. "Listen! You can hear the men doing their part."

From the forest came a sudden wild whoop, followed by the sound of a
drum, little and far off like a heart beating. "They are scaring off the
enemies of the corn," said the Corn Woman, for Dorcas could see by her
headdress, which was of dried corn tassels dyed in colors, and by a kind
of kilt she wore, woven of corn husks, that that was what she

"Oh!" said Dorcas; and then, after a moment, "It sounds as if you were
sorry, you know."

"When the seed corn goes into the ground it dies," said the Corn Woman;
"the tribe might die also if it never came alive again. Also we lament
for the Giver-of-the-Corn who died giving."

"I thought corn just grew," said Dorcas; "I didn't know it came from any

"From the People of the Seed, from the Country of Stone Houses. It was
bought for us by Given-to-the-Sun. Our people came from the East, from
the place where the Earth opened, from the place where the Noise was,
where the Mountain thundered.... This is what I have heard; this is what
the Old Ones have said," finished the Corn Woman, as though it were some
sort of song.

She looked about to the others as if asking their consent to tell the
story. As they nodded, sitting down to loosen their heavy leggings,
Dorcas could see that what she had taken to be a shock of last year's
cornstalks, standing in the middle of the dancing-place, was really tied
into a rude resemblance to a woman. Around its neck was one of the
Indian's sacred bundles; Dorcas thought it might have something to do
with the story, but decided to wait and see.

"There was a trail in those days," said the Corn Woman, "from the
buffalo pastures to the Country of the Stone House. We used to travel it
as far as the ledge where there was red earth for face-painting, and to
trade with the Blanket People for salt.

"But no farther. Hunting-parties that crossed into Chihuahua returned
sometimes; more often they were given to the Sun.--On the tops of the
hills where their god-houses were," explained the Corn Woman seeing that
Dorcas was puzzled. "The Sun was their god to them. Every year they gave
captives on the hills they built to the Sun."

Dorcas had heard the guard explaining to visitors in the Aztec room.
"Teocales," she suggested.

"That was one of their words," agreed the Corn Woman. "They called
themselves Children of the Sun. This much we knew; that there was a
Seed. The People of the Cliffs, who came to the edge of the Windswept
Plain to trade, would give us cakes sometimes for dried buffalo tongues.
This we understood was _mahiz_, but it was not until Given-to-the-Sun
came to us that we thought of having it for ours. Our men were hunters.
They thought it shame to dig in the ground.

"Shungakela, of the Three Feather band, found her at the fork of the
Turtle River, half starved and as fierce as she was hungry, but _he_
called her 'Waits-by-the-Fire' when he brought her back to his tipi, and
it was a long time before we knew that she had any other name. She
belonged to one of the mountain tribes whose villages were raided by the
People of the Sun, and because she had been a child at the time, she was
made a servant. But in the end, when she had shot up like a red lily and
her mistress had grown fond of her, she was taken by the priests of
the Sun.

"At first the girl did not know what to make of being dressed so
handsomely and fed upon the best of everything, but when they painted
her with the sign of the Sun she knew. Over her heart they painted it.
Then they put about her neck the Eye of the Sun, and the same day the
woman who had been her mistress and was fond of her, slipped her a seed
which she said should be eaten as she went up the Hill of the Sun, so
she would feel nothing. Given-to-the-Sun hid it in her bosom.

"There was a custom that, in the last days, those who were to go up the
Hill of the Sun could have anything they asked for. So the girl asked to
walk by the river and hear the birds sing. When they had walked out of
sight of the Stone Houses, she gave her watchers the seed in their food
and floated down the river on a piece of bark until she came ashore in
the thick woods and escaped. She came north, avoiding the trails, and
after a year Shungakela found her. Between her breasts there was the
sign of the Sun."

The Corn Woman stooped and traced in the dust the ancient sign of the
intertwined four corners of the Earth with the Sun in the middle.
"Around her neck in a buckskin bag was the charm that is known as the
Eye of the Sun. She never showed it to any of us, but when she was in
trouble or doubt, she would put her hand over it. It was her Medicine."

"It was good Medicine, too," spoke up the oldest of the dancing women.

"We had need of it," agreed the Corn Woman. "In those days the Earth was
too full of people. The tribes swarmed, new chiefs arose, kin hunted
against kin. Many hunters made the game shy, and it removed to new
pastures. Strong people drove out weaker and took away their
hunting-grounds. We had our share of both fighting and starving, but our
tribe fared better than most because of the Medicine of
Waits-by-the-Fire, the Medicine of the Sun. She was a wise woman. She
was made Shaman. When she spoke, even the chiefs listened. But what
could the chiefs do except hunt farther and fight harder? So
Waits-by-the-Fire talked to the women. She talked of corn, how it was
planted and harvested, with what rites and festivals.

"There was a God of the Seed, a woman god who was served by women. When
the women of our tribe heard that, they took heart. The men had been
afraid that the God of the Corn would not be friendly to us. I think,
too, they did not like the idea of leaving off the long season of
hunting and roving, for corn is a town-maker. For the tending and
harvesting there must be one place, and for the guarding of the winter
stores there must be a safe place. So said Waits-by-the-Fire to the
women digging roots or boiling old bones in the long winter. She was a
wise woman.

"It was the fight we had with the Tenasas that decided us. That was a
year of great scarcity and the Tenasas took to sending their young men,
two or three at a time, creeping into our hunting-grounds to start the
game, and turn it in the direction of their own country. When our young
men were sure of this, they went in force and killed inside the borders
of the Tenasas. They had surprised a herd of buffaloes at Two Kettle
Licks and were cutting up the meat when the Tenasas fell upon them.
Waits-by-the-Fire lost her last son by that battle. One she had lost in
the fight at Red Buttes and one in a year of Hunger while he was little.
This one was swift of foot and was called Last Arrow, for Shungakela had
said, 'Once I had a quiver full.' Waits-by-the-Fire brought him back on
her shoulders from the place where the fight was. She walked with him
into the Council.

"'The quiver is empty,' she said; 'the food bags, also; will you wait
for us to fill one again before you fill the other?'

"Mad Wolf, who was chief at the time, threw up his hand as a man does
when he is down and craves a mercy he is too proud to ask for. 'We have
fought the Tenasas,' he said; 'shall we fight our women also?'

"Waits-by-the-Fire did not wait after that for long speeches in the
Council. She gathered her company quickly, seven women well seasoned and
not comely,--'The God of the Corn is a woman god,' she said, sharp
smiling,--and seven men, keen and hard runners. The rest she appointed
to meet her at Painted Rock ten moons from their going."

"So long as that!" said Dorcas Jane. "Was it so far from where you lived
to Mex--to the Country of Stone Houses?"

"Not so far, but they had to stay from planting to harvest. Of what use
was the seed without knowledge. Traveling hard they crossed the River of
the White Rocks and reached, by the end of that moon, the mountain
overlooking the Country of Stone Houses. Here the men stayed.
Waits-by-the-Fire arranged everything. She thought the people of the
towns might hesitate to admit so many men strangers. Also she had the
women put on worn moccasins with holes, and old food from the year
before in their food bags."

"I should think," began Dorcas Jane, "they would have wanted to put on
the best they had to make a good impression."

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