“Old John” advances and does the same, followed by the next in turn, until the water is exhausted from the kettle, and then the warriors exclaim, “How great is the power of Haokah! we have thrown boiling water upon ourselves and we have not been scalded.”
The dance is over—the sacrifice is made. Markeda seeks his young wife and fears not. He had fancied that her cheeks were pale of late, but now they are flushed brilliantly, his heart is at rest.
The warriors disperse, all but the medicine man, and the chief’s store of buffalo meat diminishes rapidly under the magic touch of the epicure.
Yes! an epicure thou wert old John! for I mind me well when thou camest at dinner time, and how thou saidst thou couldst eat the food of the Indian when thou wert hungry, but the food of the white man was better far. And thou! a Dahcotah warrior, a famous hunter, and a medicine man. Shame! that thou shouldst have loved venison dressed with wine more than when the tender meat was cooked according to the taste of the women of thy nation. I have forgotten thy Indian name, renegade as thou wert! but thou answerest as well to “old John!”
Thou art now forgotten clay, though strong and vigorous when in wisdom the Sioux were punished for a fault they did not commit. Their money was not paid them—their provisions were withheld. Many were laid low, and thou hast found before now that God is the Great Spirit, and the Giant Haokah is not.
And it may be that thou wouldst fain have those thou hast left on earth know of His power, who is above all spirits, and of His goodness who would have all come unto Him.
Wenona had not hoped in vain, for her lover was with her, and Wanska seemed to be forgotten. The warrior’s flute would draw her out from her uncle’s lodge while the moon rose o’er the cold waters. Wrapped in her blanket, she would hasten to meet him, and listen to his assurances of affection, wondering the while that she had ever feared he loved another.
She had been some months at the village of Markeda, and she went to meet her lover with a heavy heart. Her mother had noticed that her looks were sad and heavy, and Wenona knew that it would not be long ere she should be a happy wife, or a mark for the bitter scorn of her companions.
The Deer-killer had promised, day after day, that he would make her his wife, but he ever found a ready excuse; and now he was going on a long hunt, and she and her parents were to return to their village. His quiver was full of arrows, and his leggins were tightly girded upon him. Wenona’s full heart was nigh bursting as she heard that the party were to leave to-morrow. Should he desert her, her parents would kill her for disgracing them; and her rival, Wanska, how would she triumph over her fall?
“You say that you love me,” said she to the Deer-killer, “and yet you treat me cruelly. Why should you leave me without saying that I am your wife? Who would watch for your coming as I would? and you will disgrace me when I have loved you so truly. Stay—tell them you have made me your wife, and then will I wait for you at the door of my teepee.”