The women who were paddling felt no fatigue. They knew that at night they were to have a feast. Already the fires of the maddening drink had made the blood in their dull veins course quickly. They anticipated the excitement that would make them forget they had ever been cold or hungry; and bring to them bright dreams of that world where sorrow is unknown.
“We must be far on our journey to-night,” said the Rattler; “the long knives are ever on the watch for Dahcotahs with whiskey.”
“The laws of the white people are very just,” said an old man of the party; “they let their people live near us and sell us whiskey, they take our furs from us, and get much money. They have the right to bring their liquor near us, and sell it, but if we buy it we are punished. When I was young,” he added, bitterly, “the Dahcotahs were free; they went and came as they chose. There were no soldiers sent to our villages to frighten our women and children, and to take our young men prisoners. The Dahcotahs are all women now—there are no warriors among them, or they would not submit to the power of the long knives.”
“We must submit to them,” said the Rattler; “it would be in vain to attempt to contend with them. We have learned that the long knives can work in the night. A few nights ago, some young men belonging to the village of Marpuah Wechastah, had been drinking. They knew that the Chippeway interpreter was away, and that his wife was alone. They went, like cowards as they were, to frighten a woman. They yelled and sung, they beat against her door, shouting and laughing when they found she was afraid to come out. When they returned home it was just day; they drank and slept till night, and then they assembled, four young men in one teepee, to pass the night in drinking.
“The father of White Deer came to the teepee. ‘My son,’ said he, ’it is better for you to stop drinking and go away. You have an uncle among the Tetons, go and visit him. You brought the fire water here, you frightened the wife of the Interpreter, and for this trouble you will be punished. Your father is old, save him the disgrace of seeing his son a prisoner at the Fort.’
“‘Fear not, my father,’ said the young man, ’your Son will never be a prisoner. I wear a charm over my heart, which will ever make me free as the wind. The white men cannot work in the night; they are sleeping even now. We will have a merry night, and when the sun is high, and the long knives come to seek me, you may laugh at them, and tell them to follow me to the country of the Tetons.’ The father left the teepee, and White Deer struck the keg with his tomahawk. The fire water dulled their senses, for they heard not their enemies until they were upon them.
“It was in the dead of night—all but the revellers slept—when the soldiers from the fort surrounded the village.
“The mother of White Deer heard the barking of her dog. She looked out of the door of her teepee. She saw nothing, for it was dark; but she knew there was danger near.