When the entertainment of each day ended, however, and Timid Hare went to her bed of buffalo skins, she would lie thinking of the old home, of the loving White Mink, the kind Three Bears, and the good foster-brother Big Moose. Then tears would roll down over the little girl’s cheeks and she would choke back a sob.
“Can it be,” she would think, “that the story White Mink told me before I was taken from her, is true? Am I truly a white child, and is she not my real mother?” Then the little captive would touch the baby’s sock fastened by a cord of deer-sinews about her waist and next to her flesh.
“It is safe,” she would whisper to herself, “and no one here has discovered it—not even The Stone. It did not save me from being captured, but it may yet bring good fortune, even as White Mink hoped.”
The visitors had all gone away and the village was once more quiet—that is, as quiet as it might be among the Dahcotas, the lovers of the dance and of music.
Now and then some of the braves went forth on a war-party, or on a hunt after bears or buffaloes. But the buffaloes were scarce, they told their chief; the herds must have wandered far, and the hunters often returned empty-handed. This was bad, because the winter was drawing near and supplies of meat were needed for that long season of bitter cold.
One morning Bent Horn rose earlier than usual and made his way to the council house. There he staid for some time talking with the medicine men and other leading braves of the village.
Should there be a bear dance and a buffalo dance to call the attention of the Great Spirit to the needs of His people, that He might send plenty of prey nearer the village? Or should the band first move to a different part of the country, where no red man dwelt and where the buffaloes, at least, might be plentiful?
When the talk was ended the men who had gathered at the council went their way. Bent Horn’s mind was made up. “My people must move to a new camping ground,” he said to himself. “We will journey to the eastward. In that direction, the hunters say, we are likely to draw near the feeding grounds of large herds of buffaloes. Tomorrow morning at sunrise we must be on our way.”
[Illustration: Bent Horn’s mind was made up.]
The news was quickly carried from one tepee to another and the squaws set to work with a will to prepare for moving.
When Timid Hare heard the news she thought sadly: “Shall I go farther than ever from my dear White Mink?” The little girl had been so frightened at the time of her capture that she was not sure in which direction she travelled.
There was not a moment now, however, to consider herself, as Sweet Grass and her mother kept the child helping them prepare for the moving. The stores of grain and other dry food, the dishes and kettles and clothing must be packed in readiness for the early start on the morrow.