He watched her as she returned to her teepee; sometimes her form was lost in the thick bushes, he could see her again as she made her way along the pebbled shore, and when she had entered her teepee he returned home.
He collected his implements of war and hunting, and, telling his mother he was going on a long journey, he left the village.
The feast given in honor of their medicine was celebrated the next day, and Cloudy Sky was thus relieved of the necessity of wearing mourning for his enemy.
His face was carefully washed of the black paint that disfigured it; his hair, plentifully greased, was braided and ornamented. His leggins were new, and his white blanket was marked according to Indian custom. On it was painted a black hand, that all might know that he had killed his enemy. But for all he did not look either young or handsome, and Harpstenah’s young friends were astonished that she witnessed the preparations for her marriage with so much indifference.
But she was unconscious alike of their sympathy and ridicule; her soul was occupied with the reflection that upon her energy depended her future fate. Never did her spirit shrink from its appointed task. Nor was she entirely governed by selfish motives; she believed herself an instrument in the hand of the gods.
Mechanically she performed her ordinary duties. The wood was cut and the evening meal was, cooked; afterwards she cut down branches of trees, and swept the wigwam. In the evening, the villagers had assembled on the shores of the lake to enjoy the cool air after the heat of the day.
Hours passed away as gossipping and amusement engaged them all. At length they entered their teepees to seek rest, and Harpstenah and her mother were the last at the door of their teepee, where a group had been seated on the ground, discussing their own and others’ affairs. “No harm can come to you, my daughter, when you are the wife of so great a medicine man. If any one hate you and wish to do you an injury, Cloudy Sky will destroy their power. Has he not lived with the Thunder Birds, did he not learn from them to cure the sick, and to destroy his enemies? He is a great warrior too.”
“I know it, my mother,” replied the girl, “but we have sat long in the moonlight, the wind that stirred the waters of the spirit lake is gone. I must sleep, that I may be ready to dress myself when you call me. My hair must be braided in many braids, and the strings are not yet sewed to my mocassins. You too are tired; let us go in and sleep.”
Sleep came to the mother—to the daughter courage and energy. Not in vain had she prayed to Haokah the Giant, to give her power to perform a great deed. Assured that her parents were sleeping heavily, she rose and sought the lodge of the medicine man.
When she reached the teepee, she stopped involuntarily before the door, near which hung, on a pole, the medicine bag of the old man. The medicine known only to the clan had been preserved for ages. Sacred had it ever been from the touch of woman. It was placed there to guard the medicine man from evil, and to bring punishment on those who sought to do him harm. Harpstenah’s strength failed her. What was she about to do?