Now, she has been weeping over the infant who sleeps by her. She is perfectly harmless, and the wife of the war chief kindly gives her food and shelter whenever she wishes it.
But it is not often she eats—only when desperate from long fasting—and when her appetite is satisfied, she seems to live over the scene, the memory of which has made her what she is.
After all but she had eaten of the fish, the Elk related to them the story of the large fish that obstructed the passage of the St. Croix river. The scene of this tradition was far from them, but the Dahcotahs tell each other over and over again the stories which have been handed down from their fathers, and these incidents are known throughout the tribe. “Two Dahcotahs went to war against their enemies. On returning home, they stopped at the Lake St. Croix, hungry and much fatigued.
“One of them caught a fish, cooked it, and asked his comrade to eat, but he refused. The other argued with him, and begged of him to eat, but still he declined.
“The owner of the fish continued to invite his friend to partake of it, until he, wearied by his importunities, consented to eat, but added with a mysterious look, ’My friend, I hope you will not get out of patience with me.’ After saying this, he ate heartily of the fish.
“He then seemed to be very thirsty, and asked his companion to bring him some water out of the lake; he did so, but very soon the thirst, which was quenched for a time only, returned; more was given him, but the terrible thirst continued, and at last the Indian, who had begged his companion to eat, began to be tired of bringing him water to drink. He therefore told him he would bring him no more, and requested him to go down to the water and drink. He did so, and after drinking a great quantity, while his friend was asleep, he turned himself into a large fish and stretched himself full length across the St. Croix.
“This fish for a long time obstructed the passage of the St. Croix; so much so that the Indians were obliged to go round it by land.
“Some time ago the Indians were on a hunting excursion up the river, and when they got near the fish a woman of the party darted ahead in her canoe.
“She made a dish of bark, worked the edges of it very handsomely, filled it with water, and placed some red down in it. She then placed the dish near the fish in the river, and entreated the fish to go to its own elements, and not to obstruct the passage of the river and give them so much trouble.
“The fish obeyed, and settled down in the water, and has never since been seen.
“The woman who made this request of the fish, was loved by him when he was a Dahcotah, and for that reason he obeyed her wishes.”
Nor was this the only legend with which he amused his listeners. The night was half spent when they separated to rest, with as firm a faith in the stories of the old medicine man, as we have in the annals of the Revolution.