She rose and left the teepee. “Where is the heaven of the Dahcotahs,” she murmured, as she looked up to the silent stars. “It may be that I shall see him again. He will love my child too, and I will forget the many tears I have shed.”
The dance to the Giant is always performed inside the wigwam. Early in the morning the dancers were assembled in the chief’s lodge. Their dress was such as is appointed for the occasion. Their hats were made of the bark of trees, such as tradition says the Giant wears. They were large, and made forked like the lightning. Their leggins were made of skins. Their ear-rings were of the bark of trees, and were about one foot long.
The chief rose ere the dawn of day, and stood before the fire. As the flames flickered, and the shadows of the dancers played fantastically about the wigwam, they looked more like Lucifer and a party of attendant spirits, than like human beings worshipping their God.
Markeda stood by the fire without noticing his guests, who awaited his motions in silence. At last, moving slowly, he placed a kettle of water on the fire, and then threw into it a large piece of buffalo meat.
Lighting his pipe, he seated himself, and then the dancers advanced to the fire and lit theirs; and soon they were enveloped in a cloud of smoke.
When the water began to boil, the Indians arose, and, dancing round the fire, imitated the voice of the Giant.
“Hah-hah! hah hah!” they sung, and each endeavored to drown the voice of the other. Now they crouch as they dance, looking diminutive and contemptible, as those who are degrading themselves in their most sacred duties. Then they rise up, and show their full height. Stalwart warriors as they are, their keen eyes flash as they glance from the fire to each others’ faces, distorted with the effort of uttering such discordant sounds. Now their broad chests heave with the exertion, and their breath comes quickly.
They seat themselves, to rest and smoke. Again the hellish sounds are heard, and the wife of the chief trembles for fear of the Giant, and her child clings closer to her breast. The water boils, and, hissing, falls over into the fire, the flames are darkened for a moment, and then burst up brighter than before.
Markeda addresses the dancers—“Warriors! the Giant is powerful—the water which boils before us will be cold when touched by a friend of the Giant. Haokah will not that his friends should suffer when offering him a sacrifice.”
The warriors then advanced together, and each one puts his hand into the kettle and takes the meat from the boiling water; and although suffering from the scalds produced, yet their calmness in enduring the pain, would induce the belief that the water really felt to them cool and pleasant.
The meat is then taken out, and put into a wooden dish, and the water left boiling on the fire. The dancers eat the meat while hot, and again they arrange themselves to dance. And now, the mighty power of the Giant is shown, for Markeda advances to the kettle, and taking some water out of it he throws it upon his bare back, singing all the while, “The water is cold.”