But so tender was she of the feelings of her own flesh and blood, that the thought of their suffering the slightest pain was death to her.
Her son ruled his household very well for a Dahcotah. He had a number of young warriors and hunters growing up around him, and he sometimes got tired of their disturbances, and would use, not the rod but a stick of wood to some purpose. Although it had the good effect of quelling the refractory spirits of the young, it invariably fired the soul of his aged mother. The old woman would cry and howl, and refuse to eat, for days; till, finding this had no effect upon her hard-hearted son, she told him she would do something that would make him sorry, the next time he struck one of his children.
But the dutiful son paid no attention to her. He had always considered women as being inferior to dogs, and he would as soon have thought of giving up smoking, as of minding his mother’s threats.
But while Red Earth was thinking of her absent lover, Two Stars was beating his sons again—and when the maiden was left alone by Shining Iron after the warning he had given her, she was attracted by the cries of one of the old women of the village, who was struggling ’mid earth and heaven, while old and young were running to the spot, some to render assistance, others to see the fun.
And glorious fun it was! the grandmother had almost hung herself—that is, she seriously intended to do it. But she evidently did not expect the operation to be so painful. When her son, in defiance of her tears and threats, commenced settling his household difficulties in his own way she took her head-strap,[Footnote: The head-strap is made of buffalo skin. It is from eight to ten, or sometimes twenty-four feet long. The women fasten their heavy burdens to this strap, which goes around the forehead; the weight of the burden falls upon the head and back. This occasions the figures of the Indian women to stoop, since they necessarily lean forward in order to preserve their balance.] went to a hill just above the village, and deliberately made her preparations for hanging, as coolly too as if she had been used to being hung for a long time. But when, after having doubled the strap four times to prevent its breaking, she found herself choking, her courage gave way—she yelled frightfully; and it was well that her son and others ran so fast, for they had well nigh been too late. As it was, they carried her into the teepee, where the medicine man took charge of her case; and she was quite well again in an hour or two. Report says (but there is a sad amount of scandal in an Indian village) that the son has never offended the mother since; so, like many a wilful woman, she has gained her point.
Red Earth witnessed the cutting down of the old woman, and as she returned to her teepee, her quick ear warned her of coming footsteps. She lingered apart from the others, and soon she saw the eagle feathers of her warrior as he descended the hill towards the village. Gladly would she have gone to meet him to welcome him home, but she knew that Shining Iron was watching her motions, and she bent her steps homeward. She was quite sure that it would not be long before he would seek her, and then she would tell him what had passed, and make arrangements for their course of conduct for the future.