And again the cries of battle shall resound along the plain,
Bows shall twang and quivers rattle, women wail their warriors slain;
And by lodge-fire lowly burning shall the mother from afar
List her warrior’s steps returning from the daring deeds of war.
[Illustration: THE GAME OF BALL]
THE FEAST OF THE VIRGINS
A LEGEND OF THE DAKOTAS
In pronouncing Dakota words give “a” the sound of “ah",—“e” the sound of “a",—“i” the sound of “e” and “u” the sound of “oo;” sound “ee” as in English. The numerals refer to Notes in appendix.
THE GAME OF BALL
Clear was the sky as a silver shield;
The bright sun blazed on the frozen field.
On ice-bound river and white-robed prairie
The diamonds gleamed in the flame of noon;
But cold and keen were the breezes airy
Wa-zi-ya blew from his icy throne.
On the solid ice of the silent river
The bounds are marked, and a splendid prize,
A robe of black-fox lined with beaver,
Is hung in view of the eager eyes;
And fifty merry Dakota maidens,
The fairest-molded of womankind
Are gathered in groups on the level ice.
They look on the robe and its beauty gladdens
And maddens their hearts for the splendid prize.
Lo the rounded ankles and raven hair
That floats at will on the wanton wind,
And the round, brown arms to the breezes bare,
And breasts like the mounds where the waters meet,
And feet as fleet as the red deer’s feet,
And faces that glow like the full, round moon
When she laughs in the luminous skies of June.
The leaders are chosen and swiftly divide
The opposing parties on either side.
Wiwaste is chief of a nimble band,
The star-eyed daughter of Little Crow;
And the leader chosen to hold command
Of the band adverse is a haughty foe—
The dusky, impetuous Harpstina,
The queenly cousin of Wapasa.
Kapoza’s chief and his tawny hunters
Are gathered to witness the queenly game.
The ball is thrown and a net encounters,
And away it flies with a loud acclaim.
Swift are the maidens that follow after,
And swiftly it flies for the farther bound;
And long and loud are the peals of laughter,
As some fair runner is flung to ground;
While backward and forward, and to and fro,
The maidens contend on the trampled snow.
With loud “Iho!—Ito!—Iho!"
And waving the beautiful prize anon,
The dusky warriors cheer them on.
And often the limits are almost passed,
As the swift ball flies and returns. At last
It leaps the line at a single bound
From the fair Wiwaste’s sturdy arm
Like a fawn that flies from the baying hound.
The wild cheers broke like a thunder storm
On the beetling bluffs and the hills profound,
An echoing, jubilant sea of sound.
Wakawa, the chief, and the loud acclaim
Announced the end of the hard-won game,
And the fair Wiwaste was victor crowned.