“‘There is but one way,’ said he, when he had heard their story, ’you must change your speech. Then the Red Men will no longer be able to deceive you so easily and slay so many of you.’
“The wild folk did as the Master of Life told them to do. They changed their language, and refused to speak any longer with the Red Men. But some of the Red Men’s words they have kept to this day, and that is why you hear us use them.”
XXIX. THE TALE OF SUN-KA THE WISE DOG
One day Old John the Indian came down the trail to the farmhouse. He was on his way to town to sell some baskets. As Uncle Mark was going to town with the team, he invited him to ride. Since the town was several miles away, the old Indian gladly accepted the invitation, leaving Ke-ha-ga his old hound at the farmhouse.
In the afternoon little Luke was sitting on the fence when old Ke-ha-ga came over to him. Putting his front paws on top of the fence, he licked the little boy’s hand.
“Hello, Ke-ha-ga,” said little Luke, “so you have come out to see me, have you? Can’t you tell me a story?” he added as he gently patted the old hound’s head.
“What kind of a story do you want?” asked the old dog.
“Oh, most any kind will do,” said the boy. “Tell me a story about some dog of the olden, days,—the days before the white men came to this country.”
“Very well,” said Ke-ha-ga, “I’ll tell you a legend that my grandfather told to me when I was a puppy.” And he began the following tale.
“Many winters ago there was a wise dog whose name was Sun-ka. He lived with an old Indian woman. Now Sun-ka was a good hunter, and often brought home to the lodge rabbits and other small animals which he had hunted and caught by himself.
“But his mistress was a bad, greedy old woman. She took all the game which he brought, and used it for herself. What she could not eat at once, she dried and put away for another time. To Sun-ka she gave only the bones and other poor scraps, so that most of the time he was half starved.
“At last there came a season when game was very scarce. The old woman, it is true, had plenty of dried meat in her wigwam, but she gave none of it to Sun-ka. He almost died of starvation.
“At last he said to himself, ’Why should that old woman have plenty to eat, and I scarcely anything at all? Most of the meat which she has hidden in her lodge, I caught for her myself. It is as much mine as it is hers. Since she will not give me my share of it, I’ll just take it without asking her.’
“But the old woman was very watchful. When Sun-ka tried to get the meat, she beat him over the head with a club until he ran away yelping with pain.
“The next morning one of his dog friends came to visit him. ’Good morning, Sun-ka,’ said he, but Sun-ka made no reply. Indeed, his head was so swelled from the blows he had received, that he could hardly open his mouth.