After “Old Bets” returned, Good Road could not conceal his satisfaction. His wife’s trip had evidently improved her good looks, for the chief thought she was the handsomest squaw in the village. Her children were always taunting the sons of the first wife, and so it went on, until at last Good Road said he would stand it no longer; he told his oldest wife to go—that he would support her no longer. And for her children, he told them the prairies were large; there were deer and other game—in short, he disinherited them—cut them off with their last meal.
For the discarded wife, life had now but one hope. The only star that shone in the blackness of her heaven, was the undefined prospect of seeing her rival’s blood flow. She would greatly have preferred taking her life herself; and as she left the wigwam of the chief, she grasped the handle of her knife—how quick her heart beat! it might be now or never.
But there were too many around to protect Old Bets. The time would come—she would watch for her—she would tear her heart from her yet.
The sons of the old hag did not leave the village; they would keep a watch on their father and his Chippeway wife. They would not easily yield their right to the chieftainship. While they hunted, and smoked, and played at cards, they were ever on the look-out for revenge.
“Red Earth” sits by the door of her father’s teepee; while the village is alive with cheerfulness, she does not join in any of the amusements going on, but seems to be occupied with what is passing in her own mind.
Occasionally she throws a pebble from the shore far into the river, and the copper-colored children spring after it, as if the water were their own element, striving to get it before it sinks from their view.
Had she been attentive to what is passing around her, she would not have kept her seat, for “Shining Iron,” the son of Good Road’s second wife, approaches her; and she loves him too little to talk with him when it can be avoided.
“Why are you not helping the women to make the teepee, Red Earth?” said the warrior. “They are laughing while they sew the buffalo-skin together, and you are sitting silent and alone. Why is it so? Are you thinking of ‘Fiery Wind?’”
“There are enough women to make the teepee,” replied Red Earth, “and I sit alone because I choose to do so. But if I am thinking of ’Fiery Wind’ I do right—he is a great warrior!”
“Tell me if you love Fiery Wind?” said the young man, while his eyes flashed fire, and the veins in his temple swelled almost to bursting.
“I do not love you,” said the girl, “and that is enough. And you need never think I will become your wife; your spells cannot make me love you. [Footnote: The Sioux have great faith in spells. A lover will take gum, and after putting some medicine in it, will induce the girl of his choice to chew it, or put it in her way so that she will take it up of her own accord. It is a long time before an Indian lover will take a refusal from the woman he has chosen for a wife.] Where are Fiery Wind and his relations? driven from the wigwam of the Chief by you and your Chippeway mother. But they do not fear you—neither do I!”