The warrior could not stay from the chase, but he promised her that he would soon return to their village, and then she should be his wife.
Wenona wept when he left her; shadows had fallen upon her heart, and yet she hoped on. Turning her weary steps homeward, she arrived there when the maidens of the village were preparing to celebrate the Virgin’s Feast.
There was no time to deliberate—should she absent herself, she would be suspected, and yet a little while ere the Deer-killer would return, and her anxious heart would be at rest.
The feast was prepared, and the crier called for all virgins to enter the sacred ring.
Wenona went forward with a beating heart; she was not a wife, and soon must be a mother. Wanska, the Merry Heart, was there, and many others who wondered at the pale looks of Wenona—she who had been on a journey, and who ought to have returned with color bright as the dying sun, whose light illumined earth, sky and water.
As they entered the ring a party of warriors approached the circle. Wenona does not look towards them, and yet the throbbings of her heart were not to be endured. Her trembling limbs refused to sustain her, as the Deer-killer, stalking towards the ring, calls aloud—“Take her from the sacred feast; should she eat with the maidens?—she, under whose bosom lies a warrior’s child? She is unworthy.”
And as the unhappy girl, with features of stone and glaring eyes, gazed upon him bewildered, he rudely led her from the ring.
Wenona bowed her head and went—even as night came on when the sun went down. Nor did the heart of the Deer-killer reproach him, for how dare she offend the Great Spirit! Were not the customs of his race holy and sacred?
Little to Wenona were her father’s reproaches, or her mother’s curse; that she was no more beloved was all she remembered.
Again was the Deer-killer by the side of Wanska, and she paid the penalty. Her husband brought other wives to his wigwam, though Wanska was ever the favorite one.
With her own hand would she put the others out of the wigwam, laughing when they threatened to tell their lord when he returned, for Wanska managed to tell her own story first; and, termagant as she was, she always had her own way.
Wenona has ceased to weep, and far away in the country of the Sissetons she toils and watches as all Indian women toil and watch. Her young son follows her as she seeks the suffering Dahcotah, and charms the disease to leave his feeble frame.
She tells to the child and the aged woman her dreams; she warns the warrior what he shall meet with when he goes to battle; and ever, as the young girls assemble to pass away the idle hours, she stops and whispers to them.
In vain do they ask of her husband: she only points to her son and says, “My hair, which is now like snow, was once black and braided like his, and my eyes as bright. They have wept until tears come no more. Listen not to the warrior who says he loves.” And she passes from their sight as the morning mists.