“Why are you sad, Wenona,” said the chief, turning to her; “why should the eyes of a chief’s sister be filled with tears, and her looks bent on the ground?”
“You need not ask why I am not happy,” said Wenona: “Red Cloud brought presents to you yesterday; he laid them at the door of your wigwam. He wants to buy me, and you have received his gifts; why do you not return them? you know I do not love him.”
“Red Cloud is a great warrior,” replied the chief; “he wears many feathers of honor; you must marry him.”
The girl wrapped herself in her blanket and lay down. For a time her sighs were heard—but at length sleep came to her relief, and her grief was forgotten in dreams. But morn has come and they are to make an early start. Was ever such confusion? Look at that old hag knocking the very senses out of her daughter’s head because she is not ready! and the girl, in order to avoid the blows, stumbles over an unfortunate dog, who commences a horrible barking and whining, tempting all the dogs of the village to outbark and outwhine him.
There goes “White Buffalo” with his two wives, the first wife with the teepee on her back and her child on the top of it. No wonder she looks so cross, for the second wife walks leisurely on. Now is her time, but let her beware! for White Buffalo is thinking seriously of taking a third.
But they are all off at last. Mothers with children, and corn, and teepees, and children with dogs on their backs. They are all gone, and the village looks desolate and forsaken.
The party encamped about twenty miles from the village. The women plant the poles of their teepees firmly in the ground and cover them with a buffalo skin. A fire is soon made in the centre and the corn put on to boil. Their bread is kneaded and put in the ashes to bake, but flour is not very plenty among them.
The next day parties were out in every direction; tracks of deer were seen in the snow, and the hunters followed them up. The beautiful animal flies in terror from the death which comes surer and swifter than her own light footsteps. The hunter’s knife is soon upon her, and while warmth and even life are left, the skin is drawn off.
After the fatigues of the day comes the long and pleasant evening. A bright fire burned in the wigwam of the chief, and many of the Indians were smoking around it, but Wenona was sad, and she took but little part in the laughter and merriment of the others.
Red Cloud boasted of his bravery and his deeds of valor; even the old men listened to him with respect, for they knew that his name was a terror to his enemies. But Wenona turned from him! she hated to hear the sound of his voice.
The old men talked of the mighty giant of the Dahcotahs, he who needed not to take his gun to kill the game he wanted; the glance of his eye would strike with death the deer, the buffalo, or even the bear.