[Illustration: “I soon had a fire started.”]
The youth shivered. Then he went on: “But I remembered how to keep wolves from drawing too near. They do not love fire. I piled the brush high, and flames leaped up in the air. All night long I did this, and now, my mother and my sister, I am with you once more. No harm befell me.”
“You did well, my son,” replied his mother. That was all, but her eyes shone with pride and gladness. So did those of Sweet Grass who exclaimed, “Those fearful wolves! How I hate them! But you are safe. They did not devour you; that is enough.”
Soon after Timid Hare went to live in Bent Horn’s lodge to serve his beautiful daughter, there was a good deal of excitement in the village. Messengers had come from other bands of the Dahcotas saying that their chiefs were about to make a visit to Bent Horn. They wished to talk over important matters in regard to the good of the whole tribe.
Both braves and squaws were busy preparing for the great time. There would be dances and feasts, games and wrestling matches. The warriors must make ready their best garments and noblest head-dresses. They must use much grease and paint to look as grand as possible when receiving their guests.
Sweet Grass and her mother had much to do getting ready for the celebration, and Timid Hare tried her best to help. She ran errands, pounded rice, brought wild sweet potatoes and dried berries from the pit in which the stores of food were buried, and tended the fire in which buffalo and bear meat were roasting, for much would be eaten during the visit which would last several days at least.
Sweet Grass smiled upon her little helper. So did her mother. Both of them were pleased with the child, and came near forgetting that she was not one of their own people.
Then came the day when word was sent through the village that the coming visit was to be celebrated by the Feast of the Dog. Different families would be asked to sacrifice the dog dearest to their hearts. Every one believed it would be a fit offering to the Great Spirit and would fill his heart with tenderness for his red children.
It would also bind the hearts of the chiefs more closely together.
As Timid Hare went through the village one morning—it was the last one before the visitors should arrive—she met Black Bull. It was the first time she had seen him since she had gone from his lodge. As she ran towards him he did not seem glad to see her. He simply looked at her pitifully.
“What is the matter, Black Bull? Is there trouble? Tell me. Everyone else is happy over the coming good time.” Timid Hare spoke fast.
“My dog,” he said brokenly. “My one friend must die. I must give him as a sacrifice, so my mother has said.” The poor fellow began to cry.