It was a bright night in the “moon for strawberries.” [Footnote: The month of June.] Harpstenah had wept herself to sleep, and she had reason too, for her young companions had laughed at her, and told her that she was to have for a husband an old man without a nose. And it was true, though Cloudy Sky could once have boasted of a fine aquiline. He had been drinking freely, and picked a quarrel with one of his sworn friends. After some preliminary blows, Cloudy Sky seized his antagonist and cut his ear sadly, but in return he had his nose bitten off.
She had wept the more when her mother told her that in four days she was to go to the teepee of her husband. It was in vain to contend. She lay down beside the fire; deep sleep came upon her; she forgot the events of the past day; for a time she ceased to think of the young man she loved, and the old one she hated. In her dreams she had travelled a long journey, and was seated on the river shore, to rest her tired limbs. The red light of the dying sun illumined the prairies, she could not have endured its scorching rays, were it not for the sheltering branches of the tree under which she had found a resting-place.
The waters of the river beat against her feet. She would fain move, but something chained her to the spot. She tried to call her mother, but her lips were sealed, and her voice powerless. She would have turned her face from the waters, but even this was impossible. Stronger and stronger beat the waves, and then parted, revealing the dreaded form of the fairy of the waters.
Harpstenah looked upon death as inevitable; she had ever feared that terrible race of beings whose home was in the waters. And now the fairy stood before her!
“Why do you tremble maiden? Only the wicked need fear the anger of the gods You have never offended us, nor the spirits of the dead. You have danced in the scalp-dance, and have reverenced the customs of the Sioux. You have shed many tears. You love Red Deer, and your father has sold you to Cloudy Sky, the medicine man. It is with you to marry the man you love, or the one you hate.”
“If you know everything,” sighed the girl, “then you must know that in four days I am to take my seat beside Cloudy Sky in his wigwam. He has twice brought calico and cloth, and laid them at the door of my father’s teepee.”
“You shall not marry Cloudy Sky, if you have a strong heart, and fear nothing,” replied the fairy. The spirits of the water have determined on the death of Cloudy Sky. He has already lived three times on earth. For many years he wandered through the air with the sons of the thunder bird; like them he was ever fighting against the friends of Unktahe.
“With his own hand he killed the son of that god, and for that was he sent to earth to be a medicine man. But long ago we have said that the time should come, when we would destroy him from the earth. It is for you to take his life when he sleeps. Can a Dahcotah woman want courage when she is to be forced to marry a man she hates?”