The dark deed was forgotten; and when, in the time that the leaves began to fall, they prepared the wild rice for winter’s use, Red Deer was at her side.
He was a good hunter, and the parents were old. Red Deer ever kept them supplied with game—and winter found her a wife, and a happy one too; for Red Deer loved her in very truth—and the secret of the death of the medicine man was buried in their hearts.
Ten years had passed away since their marriage, and Red Deer had never brought another wife to his teepee. Harpstenah was without a rival in his affections, if we except the three strong boys who were growing up beside them.
Chaske (the oldest son) could hunt for his mother, and it was well that he could, for his father’s strength was gone. Consumption wasted his limbs, and the once powerful arm could not now support his drooping head.
The father and mother had followed Cloudy Sky to the world of spirits; they were both anxious to depart from earth, for age had made them feeble, and the hardships of ninety years made them eager to have their strength renewed, in the country where their ancestors were still in the vigor of early youth. The band at Lake Calhoun were going on a hunt for porcupines; a long hunt, and Harpstenah tried to deter her husband from attempting the journey; but he thought the animating exercise of the chase would be a restorative to his feeble frame, and they set out with the rest.
When the hunters had obtained a large number of those valued animals, the women struck their teepees and prepared for their return. Harpstenah’s lodge alone remained, for in it lay the dying man—by his side his patient wife. The play of the children had ceased—they watched with silent awe the pale face and bright eye of their father—they heard him charge their mother to place food that his soul might be refreshed on its long journey. Not a tear dimmed her eye as she promised all he asked.
“There is one thing, my wife,” he said, “which still keeps my spirit on earth. My soul cannot travel the road to the city of spirits—that long road made by the bravest of our warriors—while it remembers the body which it has so long inhabited shall be buried far from its native village. Your words were wise when you told me I had not strength to travel so far, and now my body must lie far from my home—far from the place of my birth—from the village where I have danced the dog feast, and from the shores of the ‘spirit lakes’ where my father taught me to use my bow and arrow.”
“Your body shall lie on the scaffold near your native village,” his wife replied. “When I turn from this place, I will take with me my husband; and my young children shall walk by my side. My heart is as brave now as it was when I took the life of the medicine man. The love that gave me courage then, will give me strength now. Fear not for me; my limbs will not be weary, and when the Great Spirit calls me, I will hear his voice, and follow you to the land of spirits, where there will be no more sickness nor trouble.”