This threat silenced the grandmother for the time. But a young girl who had been sitting with them, and listening to the conversation, rose to go out; and as she passed Sacred Wind, she whispered in her ear, “Tell her why you will not marry the Bear; tell her that Sacred Wind loves her cousin; and that last night she promised him she never would marry any one but him.”
Had she been struck to the earth she could not have been paler. She thought her secret was hid in her own heart. She had tried to cease thinking of “The Shield;” keeping away from him, dreading to find true what she only suspected. She did not dare acknowledge even to herself that she loved a cousin.
But when the Shield gave her his handsomest trinkets; when he followed her when she left her laughing and noisy companions to sit beside the still waters—when he told her that she was the most beautiful girl among the Dahcotahs—when he whispered her that he loved her dearly; and would marry her in spite of mothers, grandmothers, customs and religion too—then she found that her cousin was dearer to her than all the world—that she would gladly die with him—she could never live without him.
But still, she would not promise to marry him. What would her friends say? and the spirits of the dead would torment her, for infringing upon the sacred customs of her tribe. The Shield used many arguments, but all in vain. She told him she was afraid to marry him, but that she would never marry any one else. Sooner should the waves cease to beat against the shores of the spirit lakes, than she forget to think of him.
But this did not satisfy her cousin. He was determined she should be his wife; he trusted to time and his irresistible person to overcome her fears.
The Shield’s name was given to him by his father’s friends. Shields were formerly used by the Sioux; and the Eyanktons and Sissetons still use them. They are made of buffalo skin, of a circular form; and are used as a protection against the arrows of their enemies.
“You need not fear your family, Sacred Wind,” said her cousin, “nor the medicine men, nor the spirits of the dead. We will go to one of the villages, and when we are married, we will come back. Let them be angry, I will stand between you and them, even as my father’s shield did between him and the foe that sought his life.”
But she was firm, and promised nothing more than that she would not marry the Bear, or any one else; and they returned to her father’s teepee, little thinking that any one had overheard their conversation. But the “Swan” had heard every word of it.
She loved the Shield, and she had seen him follow his cousin. After hearing enough to know that her case was a hopeless one, she made up her mind to make Sacred Wind pay dearly for the love which she herself could not obtain.
She did not at once tell the news. She wanted to amuse herself with her victim before she destroyed her; and she had hardly yet made up her mind as to the way which she would take to inform the family of Sacred Wind of the secret she had found out.