As she did so her eyes met a pair of large black ones fastened upon her own, and just above the water’s edge. They belonged to the chief’s only son Young Antelope, who had come for a drink of cool water before going off on a hunting trip. He was a handsome youth. As he lay stretched out on the grassy bank above the spring he had heard the sound of Timid Hare’s steps as she drew near, and looked up to see who it was.
“Oof! the stranger,” he said, but he did not scowl like the little girls whom the little captive had passed a few minutes before.
The next minute he had sprung to his pony’s back and gone galloping away. Timid Hare thought sadly of the dear foster-brother far away on the wide prairie, as she trudged back with her load to the tepee where The Stone awaited her.
“Bad,” scolded the squaw as she looked into the crock and saw that some of the water had been spilled on the way home.
She reached for her willow switch and used it twice on Timid Hare’s back.
“I have a nice little task for you,” she said. “Do you see this?” She pointed to a dish full of a dull red dye. “It is for you,” she continued. “No more pale-faces about us now. You are to take this dye and paint yourself—every part of your body, mind you. Then, when you have used this on your hair—” she pointed to a smaller dish containing a black dye—“we may be able to make a Dahcota out of you after all.”
“Waste no time,” she commanded, as Timid Hare turned slowly to the dishes of dye. “I leave you now for a little while and when I come back—then I may like to look at you.”
The Stone left the lodge and Timid Hare was left to change herself so that even White Mink would not know her. Trained as she had been in the ways of all Indians, her tears fell often as she covered her body with the paint. She dare not leave one spot untouched, nor one tress of the beautiful hair that had been White Mink’s pride. When the work was at last finished, there was no mirror in which to look at herself.
Once—just once, during her eight years of life among the Mandans, she had seen a looking-glass. It was no larger than the palm of her small hand, and belonged to the chief into whose hands it had come from a white hunter years before. It was such a wonderful thing! Timid Hare thought of it now and wished that she might see the picture that it would of herself reflect.
“When I am next sent to the spring,” she thought, “I will seek the quiet little pool where some of the water lingers. Then, if the clouds give a deep shadow, I can see the Timid Hare I now am.”
“Good,” muttered The Stone when she returned and examined her little slave. But when Black Bull noticed the change, he said nothing—only looked sad. Perhaps he felt that the little stranger had somehow lost herself.