The sun, shining into the tepee through the opening over the fireplace, roused The Stone to her day’s work. She lost no time in setting a task for her little slave. Handing her a needle carved from the bone of a deer and thread made of a deer’s sinew, she hade her sew up a rent in the skin curtain of the doorway.
Poor Timid Hare! she had learned to embroider and to weave baskets in the old home, but sewing on heavy skins had never yet fallen to her share of the daily duties. “There will be time enough,” White Mink had thought, “when the little fingers have grown bigger and the tender back is stronger.”
So now the hands were clumsy, and the stitches were not as even as they should be. The Stone watched her with a scowl and frequent scoldings; often an uplifted arm seemed ready to strike. But seeing that the child was trying to do her best, the expected beating did not come.
After she and Black Bull had eaten their own breakfast of bread made out of wild rice, together with some buffalo fat, she gave a small portion to Timid Hare. Then she and Black Bull went out of the lodge, leaving the little girl alone at her work.
How different—how very different—this home was from the one among the Mandans! The old one was so big and comfortable, and there was such a jolly household of parents and grandparents and uncles and aunts, and children of all ages gathered together under one roof. Then, too, the floor was so smooth and shiny, and the bedsteads, each one shut off by a curtain and made pretty with fringe and pictures, seemed almost like tiny sleeping rooms. Moreover, the banking of earth over the framework of the lodge kept out the chill winds and biting cold of winter.
But here, in The Stoned tepee, where the skin covering was old and torn, one must often suffer. At least so thought Timid Hare as she looked up now and then from her work to get acquainted with her new home.
“Besides, it is so small,” she said to herself, “and only two people in the whole household before I came. How strange it is!”
It was quite true that the ways of the Dahcotas were unlike those of the Mandans. Each family lived by itself and thus the home did not need to be so large. Timid Hare did not know this, nor that the people, as a rule, lived in great comfort. They preferred tents, rather than houses like those of the Mandans, of frame-work covered with earth because they liked to move from place to place and they could thus carry their homes with them. Yet their tepees were warm and comfortable because the covering of strong, thick buffalo skins was generally double. Fires were kept burning on their hearths in winter and supplies of food and clothing were easy to obtain from the wild creatures of the woods and prairies. What more could any red people wish?
Timid Hare had heard her foster father tell much of the powerful Dahcotas and that they were rich, as Indians count riches.