With their usual shyness the Indians watched the white man’s method from the underbrush skirting the margin of the creeks, and when the trapper had left, they stole his trap and carried it off to their village. A long time elapsed before the savage learned how to use the trap which had so interested him. It was not until the white man taught him that he learned how to watch the beaver at work in the pale moonlight; how to know where the beaver-houses were, the proper method of placing the trap, its peculiar bait, and then to leave it to catch the beaver.
The following story was told many years ago by George P. Belden, and it is the second instance of Indian elopement that has come under the observation of the authors of this book. It occurred some time in the early ’40’s.
The Ogallallas and Brules were once the most powerful tribes on the plains, and were particularly friendly. The chief of the Brules was an old and experienced warrior. The chief of the Ogallallas had a son whose name was Souk. The old Brule frequently noticed the young Ogallalla, and seemed mightily pleased with him. On one or two occasions he spoke to Souk encouragingly, and one day went so far as to invite him to visit his tribe, and spend a few days at his lodge. These visits were often repeated, and it was during one of them Souk met the daughter of his friend, who was the belle of her tribe, and, besides her great personal charms, was esteemed to be the most virtuous and accomplished young woman in the nation. It did not take long for her to make an impression on the heart of Souk, and soon both the young people found themselves over head and ears in love with each other.
The Indian girl was proud of her lover, as well she might be, for he was only twenty-eight years of age, tall, handsome, good-tempered, and manly in his deportment. Besides these considerations in his favour, he was virtually the head of his tribe, and no warrior was more renowned for deeds of valour. A born chief, the idol of his aged father, prepossessing in his appearance, already the leader of his band and its chief warrior. He was just such a person as was likely to move the heart and excite the admiration of a young girl.
Chaf-fa-ly-a was the only daughter of the Brule chief, and the spoiled pet of her father. She was tall, lithe, and agile as an antelope. She could ride the wildest steed in her father’s herds, and no maiden in the tribe could shoot her painted bow so well, so daintily braid her hair, or bead moccasins as nicely as Chaf-fa-ly-a. Giving all the love of her passionate nature to Souk, he loved her with all the strength of his manly heart in return. Day after day the lovers lingered side by side, sat under the shade of the great trees by the clear-running brook, or hand in hand gathered wild flowers in the shadows of the hills.
Sometimes Souk was at the village