Timid Hare at once thought of a reason for Black Bull’s illness,—he had worried much over the thought of losing his dog. But Young Antelope had not told her that he came near losing his life and of his terrible fright at the time.
“Has the medicine man visited Black Bull?” asked Timid Hare.
“Not yet.” The Fountain shook her head sadly. “I doubt if The Stone cares whether her son lives or dies. But I am going to see the poor creature. Afterwards, if the medicine man has not been sought, I will ask my husband to get his help.”
The Fountain started on her errand, and Timid Hare went back to the chief’s lodge to tell her young mistress what she had learned. On the way she passed a clump of trees beneath which she saw several people sitting and listening to the voice of a tall man who stood before them. He was one of the most powerful medicine men of the band.
“He must be speaking of some great mystery,” thought Timid Hare. “How noble he is! How much he must know! It may be that he is telling of the secrets he reads in the fire.”
Turning her eyes towards the listeners, she saw they were thinking deeply of his words. They looked with wonder at the medicine man. “Yes, he must be speaking of the secrets no one but he can discover.”
[Illustration: They looked with wonder at the medicine man.]
When Timid Hare reached home she spoke of this medicine man to her mistress. “If only he could go to Black Bull, the sickness would leave the poor fellow,” she said.
Soon afterwards Sweet Grass herself sought the medicine man. She brought him presents of buffalo marrow, deer meat, and a juicy, well-cooked land turtle. Then she asked his help for the deformed youth, and he promised to go to him.
The next day word came to the chief’s lodge that Black Bull had gone to join the people of the grave. Though the medicine man had gone to him and worked his mysteries with songs and drum beating, the Great Spirit had not willed that he should live.
“Better so,” declared Bent Horn, when the news was brought to the lodge. “Black Bull was of no help to his people. He suffered, and was not happy. Better so!”
“I will take his dog,” Sweet Grass promised her sad little maid. “Smoke shall be cared for, though his master has left him.”
THE WINTER HUNT
The new home proved to be a good one. Each time the hunters went forth they returned with a load of game. The squaws were kept busy drying buffalo and bear meat, packing away the marrow and cleaning the bones and skins. Every part of the animals was put to some use.
The days of the long, cold winter were at hand, and all must work busily. Timid Hare had much to do, but sometimes she was allowed to play outside of the tepee with other children; they were kinder to her now that she lived in the chief’s home. She had plenty to eat, and Sweet Grass and her mother treated her well, but she longed for something that was lacking here but was freely given in the old home: it was love.