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Wa-pee Moos-tooch
Chapter XIII
On His Wedding Journey


AND NOW NAGOS mounts to the back of the grey, and the other two ponies are packed with a brand new moose skin lodge, and some choice forest provisions, and with the three young men on foot, and amid the quiet benedictions of parents and friends, Nagos turned her back on all her past. And in this she was even doing as the daughters of Eve have done from the beginning—leaving father and mother, and cleaving unto her husband.

She alone of this little party was in measure sad, but she remembered that her lover-husband had promised, to bring her again to the camp of her people within the circle of the moons. And she fully trusted him. White Buffalo was proud and intensely happy. He had won the great prize he set before him, and his queen, Nagos, was going with him to the lodges of his people. Snake Skin was full of hope. He believed the Little Star looked upon him with favor, and Niska was glad to go with his sister and see for himself and his friends the camps of the plain warriors and hunters in the new country.

Simultaneous with their departure, the northern Crees struck camp, and loading their canoes embarked for the lower levels of lake and river. The North Wind Maker sang the songs of his youth to cheer his own heart, but more so that of the faithful wife and mother, who could not but shed some tears as she paddled in her place in the swift moving birch canoe. Her only daughter, and such a child as Nagos, had gone out of her home, and while she was proud of the alliance with one so noble as White Buffalo, still her heart was sad. And then her boy—what dangers was he going into? What risks would he run? But she was praying for her children: "Oh, Great Good Spirit, and ye spirits all, pity and bless my children." This was the burden of her cry as the little flotilla swept down the ripples and rapids, and around the bends of the smaller stream, on and on into the larger river. When the wedding party reached the summit from whence White Buffalo had seen the smoke of the lone lodge, which had been the home of the object of his quest on his first journey north, he stayed his party, and standing and holding the hand of Nagos, he told her how he was surely led to find her as his mate, and how his heart had stirred within him as he had stood on this spot alone thirteen moons since. And she looked into his eyes, and saw his soul, and her great love and trust were more than satisfied. Just then Niska drew attention to an object which was silently looking at them from another point on the ridge, and behold, there was a great large wolf, and Snake Skin knew, and White Buffalo knew, that the spirit of his dream, his Pawakun, was with him truly in this his wedding trip, and he pressed the hand of Nagos and vowed within his heart eternal faithfulness.

Snake Skin said within himself: "Surely my friend is blessed above many," and the boy Niska wondered at the hush that came over these older men. Then Nagos turned and cast her eye away down the valley of the stream, and fain would have sent her spirit forth to comfort her parents. But no, her spirit would not leave the presence of her lord.

In silence and in joy they travelled down the slope which was their course. Perhaps there is no part of this great continent where the seasons are as intense as they are in Canada's great Northwest. Forever recurrent, forever at work doing their part, there is no monotony in the years, winter, spring, summer, autumn; and life is always fresh. Such are the conditions of Canada's great west land. Now it is autumn, rich and glorious, and our travellers are revelling in the beauty and harmony of the scene. To Nagos this was a new world. Far away stretches of hill and valley, and forest and plain were coming in view from every vantage point. And now the grasses and herbage were ripe, and the tints were full, and the whole land on every side was gorgeous. This was a wonderful and fitting bridal trip. Nature magnificent, on every hand, and these most appreciative children of nature were basking in the wholesome sunshine thereof. There were no showers of rice, no flinging of old slippers over bridal costumes nor were there any smiling and smirking and giggling and jesting fellow-travellers. Moreover, there were no transport employees making rude remarks because of the newly wedded couple. Nay, with these all was joy and happiness, and this rich environment was of the Great Spirit's goodness. And as his children they were accepting his gifts with reverence and gratitude.

Arranging as to where they should camp, Snake Skin and Nitha ran on to do some hunting and also make preparation for camp, and White Buffalo and Nagos followed up with the horses. As they journeyed they conversed. Said Nagos:

"Are women so few in your south country that you and your friend had to come away out here to look for them ?" And he answered:

"Women like you my Nagos, are few." And she said: " Perhaps men like you are hard to satisfy."

"Yes," said White Buffalo, "but now I am satisfied, for I have you, and am taking you away to my lodge and people."


The Taking Home of Nagos

"Yes," she answered, and I am truly willing to go, for all through these moons since I first saw you I have wanted to be with you." And he said: "It makes my heart glad to hear you thus speak, and I hope that you will always feel this way, and I pledge you my life that I will do my part to have you love me more and more even as the Great Spirit may give us life to dwell together." " Oh, my man, I love you with all my heart now," said the Little Mother, and White Buffalo was moving closer U beside the l)ig grey to he near his Nagos, when suddenly there came a clear distinct shout upon their ears, and Nagos said: "That is Nislea, something is wrong. Let us hurry! Let us hurry!" And the Little Mother let the grey move as fast as he could considering the underbrush and forest, and White Buffalo sent the ponies after her at a good pace.

Very soon they came out into a small opening, and saw near the centre of this, where there stood a few scattered poplar trees, a stirring sight. Here was a group of hears, a great big she-hear and her cubs, and two large male bears, and on ground and under the bunch of bears there lying as dead was Snake Skin, and perched up in one of the trees was Niska. The latter pantomined to them, and White Buffalo at once understood that the boy's weapons were gone, and sending Nagos back with the horses to be under cover, he sprang his bow and pulled some arrows from his quiver, and rushed to the rescue. The bears were so taken up with the man on the ground and the other in the tree that they did not know of his approach until one of the big males squealed with pain as the sharp arrow entered his vitals. And before they saw the newcomer another arrow struck the second big male bear. Then the female and cubs saw White Buffalo, and the old one rushed at him, but he, always cool, ran from her a little way in order to give Niska a chance to recover his bow if not broken. Then he suddenly turned and shot the bear as she was coming for him with all speed. The arrow stayed her course and gave White Buffalo time to pull another, and with this he stopped her run altogether. Then he hurried over to the scene of the fight, where already Niska was down beside the prostrate form of Snake Skin. By this time all the old hears were dead, and the cubs were whining and moving around the mother bear and wondering what had happened. Then Nagos, who had keenly watched the battle, came up with the horses, and White Buffalo waved her over to the side of the opening the breeze was from in order that the horses might not be frightened, as was often the case when they scented any of the bear species. He also ran over and helped Nagos dismount, and he fastened the horses, and then all were on the spot where Snake Skin lay as if dead.

But White Buffalo soon found that his friend still lived, though unconscious, and remembering that they had passed a stream of water a little way back, dispatched Niska for some, and in the meanwhile sought to find what was the matter, and discovered that except for a few scratches there were no serious wounds on the body or limbs of Snake Skin. Then while both Nagos and White Buffalo rubbed and worked and raised their friend and longed for some return of consciousness, he began to breathe more freely and presently opened his eyes and wondered where he was. Then he saw Nagos and smiled, and she was so glad that she kissed her husband's friend, and White Buffalo laughed and said: "Now he will surely live. My friend will live!"

And Niska, running up with the cold spring water, he drank some and Nagos bathed his head, and in a little while he sat up and was himself again. Then there was great joy in all their hearts. Their little party was still intact. "These bears are fat; these skins are good. We will camp here," said White Buffalo, and soon the lodge was set, and the rest of the day and the following also were spent in drying and smoking the fat of the bears, and in stretching and fleshing and drying the bear skins. Niska had killed the cubs, thus none had escaped.

When the day was spent, and they were sitting around the cheerful fire in the lodge, Nagos said:

"Come, now, tell us what happened. We saw you, Snake Skin, stretched on the ground, and you Niska, away up a tree. Now tell us what took place before my husband and myself came in sight."

"Yes," said White Buffalo, whose whole being had thrilled when he heard Nagos say for the first time "my husband," "do tell us about it." Then Snake Skin turned to Niska and said: "You saw more than I did, you were up the tree. You go on and tell us what you saw."

"Yes," replied Nagos, "when I saw him up the tree, though I was much frightened, yet I thought my brother is more like a squirrel than a goose. Both are great to make noise. Let him tell what he saw, and what sent him up the tree."

And Niska laughed, and said he was thankful there was a tree to climb into, and he had no doubt other people would climb just as quick as he did if they had been chased as he was. Then he gave his version of the fracas.

We were running, Snake Skin was ahead, and we had not seen a fresh track, though there were plenty of yesterday's and older, when suddenly we carne into the company of bears, and before we could draw our arrows they were upon us. I think they had been fighting among themselves and were already mad when they saw us, for the whole crowd came upon us in a jump, and one of them knocked my bow out of my hand quicker than any man could do it, and was going to clasp me in his arms, when I dodged and sprang from him, and ran for the tree, and just missed being pulled down by the, same fellow. Then when I got high enough I looked around and saw Snake Skin being squeezed by the biggest bear of the lot. It was then I called for you to hear. Snake Skin's bow was not in his hands and he was wrestling with the big bear. Then the one that chased me up the tree went at his fellow-bear, and presently Snake Skin and the two bears were all in a heap and then they tumbled, and I saw Snake Skin under, and I said 'he is killed,' for he lay as one dead. From where I was I could not see him breathe, and the two bears got up and went at each other, and struggled and wrestled, and at last one downed the other, and they both were out of breath and were quietly resting when you came in sight. Say, Nagos, your man is a wonderful shot with bow and arrow. My, he must have a strong arm! The arrow went almost through that big bear, and when the other bear rushed at him he shot him twice so quick I was astonished. I tell you, Nagos, my sister, you must never anger White Buffalo. He is a terrible man," and Nagos looked at White Buffalo beside her, and said quietly:

"I am not afraid. Don't you know his strength is my strength, why should I fear my man?" And White Buffalo sat and drank in all this from Nagos, for it was as sweet incense to his soul.

And now Snake Skin spoke up: "Yes, Nagos, what you say is true. Your man is yours for life. I know him to be both brave and good, you need not fear him. He should have killed me long ago, for my foolish wickedness, but instead he always forgave me, and has now saved my life several times from men and beasts. And you, Niska, be proud you are related to one so brave and strong, and withal so good."

Then White Buffalo interjected: "Go slow, my friend, you know your tongue is prone to travel fast. I am not the only brave and good man. And my heart jumps with gladness that I was again permitted to come to the help of so true a friend as you are. So now go on with your story of the fight with the bears today."

"Well," said Snake Skin, "I have hardly got my breath back, but if I must tell what I saw, here goes. We were running, Niska and I, and without a sound or warning we were on the bears, and almost as quickly they were on us, and as I could not draw an arrow I flung my bow from me, and had not time to pull my knife when one of the bears had me in his clasp, and then the other big hear was up beside me, and down we went, and whether it was the awful squeeze or the tumble with the bears on top I do not know, I was gone asleep and did not know any more until I saw you and Nagos working with me, and I felt as if I had come back from a long journey, and here were you and Nagos beside me, and all the bears dead. And I said to myself: It is my friend, White Buffalo. He has done this, and again I owe him my life."

"Well, well," said Nagos, "for you Snake Skin, your story is very short. That bear certainly squeezed the breath out of you, and we must let you rest on this journey in order that you may recover. I saw more than you did, but I will not tell my story now, it might make some of you too proud, but let us all thank the Good Spirit for life and all good things."

Then White Buffalo trilled off one of his thanksgiving songs, and the others joined in the chorus, and all were truly grateful. Nagos and her man were supremely happy.

The next day, while Nagos and White Buffalo were busy with the meat and fat and skins, and Snake Skin lounged and rested, and drew long breaths in order to feel his lungs come back in place after the terrible squeeze of yesterday, Niska ran out and in a very short time shot a black-tail deer, and here was another skin and more meat to look after. And all were kept busy in the work of stretching and drying skins and curing the meat and fat of the bears, and making stagings whereon to dry the meat and stretch the skins, and keeping slow fires under these. And thus there was plenty to do.

The following day they moved camp. The two ponies were well packed, and Snake Skin was mounted on the big grey, for, protest as he would, Nagos would make him take her place on horseback. And really he was not fit to walk. The big bear had given him a mighty hug, and it would take some time for him to come back to the normal. They made but a short day's journey.

"Snake Skin must rest," said Nagos, and White Buffalo said, "Why hurry?" For to him this was Paradise, and his soul was resting. He had Nagos, and she was both wife, and home, and all things to this ardent lover and husband.

They camped on the bank of a little stream, and a short distance from them was a beaver dam, and every little while they could hear the loud sounding flops of these creatures, as they dove and played in their strongly-made pond. And when the moose-hide lodge was set, and the stagings up, and the meat and skins hung out to dry, and the supper over, White Buffalo told how he had been sitting on a beaver path at one time, watching the pond for a favorable chance to shoot, and never dreaming of anything behind him, when suddenly he heard a movement just at his back. And before he could turn out of the way, a great big old beaver came thump up against him, and for the time being he felt like Snake Skin must have felt the other day, for he seemed as if the wind was knocked out of him. And on rushed the beaver and dove into the pond with a big splash. And White Buffalo said that both he and the beaver were very much frightened.

"Frightened, did you say?" said Snake Skin. "I do not think you were ever frightened."

"Oh, yes, I have been frightened many times," answered White Buffalo. "Why, sometimes during the winters and summers that have passed I was often frightened at the thought that I would have to kill you."

"I do not wonder at that," said Snake Skin, "I now often wonder that you did not knock me on the head or send an arrow through rue as I deserved you should."

"Then," continued White Buffalo, looking with intense affection at Nagos, "how often have I felt fear during these last few moons that I might not be able to secure this Little Mother beside me. Terrible fear at times, which would cloud my days, and make my heart very sore. But now—" and he laughed in joy.

And Nagos blushed and all joined in the merry laugh of White Buffalo.

Then Nagos said: "Talking about beaver, I had two young beavers as my pets for a whole summer, and I loved them, they were so cute and playful. In the fall I heard my father say something about killing them, and I slipped away with them one day, when we were camped like we are tonight, near to a pond, and put them into it, and when father missed the young beavers I told him, and he laughed, and called me a little soft heart. But he did not scold:"

"Yes," said Niska, "I got all the scolding in our lodge. Nagos never was scolded. She could do what she liked, and it was all right with father and mother. I remember those beaver kittens. They were pretty and cunning, and forever in mischief, and Nagos spent a great deal of time playing with them and talking to them as if they were people."

Just then there came the sound of a big splash in the pond, but White Buffalo answered:

"I am not hunting beaver just now. I am too busy taking my wife home," and Nagos laughingly answered: "Yes, that is very hard work for White Buffalo, to have his wife to look after and carry home to his own lodge. Poor fellow! And you, Snake Skin, you also are going to have the same trouble by and by with the Little Star, if you are not more careful."

"Yes," said Snake Skin, "now I see the great misfortune of White Buffalo, I must be more careful, and not run into like troubles."

Then Niska laughed and said: "I am afraid you are already in big trouble, for I heard you when you were asleep last night talking about a star."

Then they all laughed, and Nagos remarked that she was growing anxious about how she might be received in the southern camp, and White Buffalo assured her that her welcome in his mother's heart would be genuine. And Snake Skin said:

"All our people will welcome you as our young chief's wife. They will be glad to have you come among them for White Buffalo's sake and for your own sake, Nagos, they will rejoice," and thus assured Nagos was much comforted.

Slowly our party moved south. Niska and Nagos were filled with wonderment at the stretches of prairie they came into, and listened with some dawning of comprehension to Snake Skin's account of the great plains, interminable and beyond. He was steadily recovering from his tussle with the bears. And Nagos said, when his breathing became easier, so did his tongue move freer.

When within a couple of days of easy march of where they hoped to find their people, they came upon Papamotao and his family, who had branched out from the others for a side trip of hunting and trapping. Here Nagos for the first time came into association with the women of the southern camp, and was delighted with the welcome they gave to her. The Traveller's wife acted a mother's part at once, and made her feel right at home, and the girls of the lodge showed her every kindness, and accorded to her marked attention. She spoke of them to Snake Skin, and his answer was:

"Are you not our young chief's wife? If he loves you then all our people will love you also. Then they are not blind or thoughtless, they see you, and will love you for your own sake. Oh, Nagos, you need not fear our people. The little children and the grand-parents, and all the camp will be your true friends."

Papamotao gave her a general welcome. Said he:

"We did wonder where White Buffalo had gone to. Who had he found? To whom was his spirit forever wandering all through these many moons? Some of us suspected it was even as it has turned out to be. But neither he nor Snake Skin ever told anyone about the people of the north. I alone in our camp had seen some of them when I went on the long journey down to the big water. But I did not see your people, my daughter. All we could do was to believe in White Buffalo. We knew him, we felt he would do right, and now we are sure he has done so, for we behold you, his choice, coming with your brother into the camps of our people, and surely into our hearts as well, We wish for you and your husband great happiness. Truly you are welcome as the wife of White Buffalo."

Thus Papamotao spoke to Nagos, and then turning to White Buffalo, he said:

"Young man, keep on as you have begun. Follow the best in you. Surely someone led you out to hunt and find this good woman you have brought home as your wife, and whom we cannot help but give our hearts to for her own sake as well as for yours. Then I say to you, keep on always listening to the good, having your ears and mind open to the spirits, who will lead you in paths of prosperity and happiness."

And White Buffalo answered: "Your words and actions make me abundantly glad, my wise friend, and your counsel I will take to my heart, and seek to follow. As you say. I was led out into the unknown to me and my people, and there I found her who is now my wife. And in this I surely see and feel that the spirits have been very good to me." Then Papanwtao suggested that they stop where they were for a few days and make a general hunt, and if need be cache some provisions for use later on in the season. And White Buffalo agreed to this, for he thought in this way Nagos would become familiar with these women, and thus have some acquaintances and friends before reaching the other camps.

Those were happy glorious days for our hero and his young wife. Life was sweet. Life was taking on new ideals in the minds and hearts of these noble souls who had found each other, and were destined to play an important part in the history of their people. Papamotao indicated where the game was to be found, and the young men went after them with zest and industry. Hunting moose is glorious sport, and among the forest people there were always those who excelled in this art of circumventing the fine instincts of these splendid animals. Sometimes almost anyone can kill a moose, but this is a mere incident. The ordinary moose hunt was a matter of profound skill, and close calculation. White Buffalo delighted in this work, and already excelled in it, and the first day's hunt gave him three fine moose to his credit. And Niska, who had accompanied him, came in with wonderful tales of his cunning and archery.

"Why, he seems to know where to find them, and his eye is so quick. I thought I was sharp-eyed, but oh my, he can see in the thicket. Said he to me: 'Do you see the tip of the ear of yonder moose?' and I looked and sure enough that was all we could see of the big animal, but there it was, the tip of the ear. And then he crawled up close without breaking a twig or touching a bush. I stopped short and listened and watched, and the only noise I heard was a little cough the moose made because something stuck in his throat. White Buffalo went almost up to him and sent his arrow right into him, and the moose did not make many jumps when he fell over dying. And when we had skinned and cut up and put away the meat, we went on and found the fresh tracks of several more, and he told me where these now were. And we went there and he killed two of the biggest within a hundred steps of each other. I can tell you, Nagos, there is no danger of starving with White Buffalo around. But, my sister, if you dress and take care of all the meat and skins your husband kills and brings in, you will have to be smart."

And Nagos smiled and was glad to hear her husband extolled, and said she was willing to do her part as his wife in the work of the camp.

The next day Niska and Snake Skin and the boys in Papamotao's lodge took some horses and went after the meat and hides of the three moose, and White Buffalo and Papamotao went out on the hunt in another direction. Nagos and the other women made preparations to stretch the hides and dry the meat, erecting stagings, cutting poles, and were also busy making and mending moccassins, and dressing skins and sewing these into garments, and Papamotao's wife was delighted to find that Nagos was expert in all this, and highly commended her. And Nagos told her new friends that this had been her training all through her girlhood to help her mother in all her work; that she was the only daughter, and she was glad she loved this work, and it was now a great pleasure to be able to do what she could for her husband and his friends.

"Oh," said the older woman, "you have come into a good family. There are no better people than the father and mother of White Buffalo. No wonder they have such a good son."

Thus these native women conversed and were busy while their husbands were out on the chase.

In the grey dawn of the early morning our sturdy hunters were tramping across the valley to the hill range of forest land, where the game were wont to resort at this season. And by the time the sun was two hands-breadth up, they had covered many miles, and were now keenly looking for fresh signs of animal life. And here these were where a band of elk had just now been feeding, and but a little while since moved on.

"Now," said White Buffalo, "if we can only find them in the open, or moving out into it, we can very soon kill enough to keep us busy all the day."

And Papamotao looked at his companion, and was astonished at his assurance. He had never been out on the hunt with this man, but knew he was expert. However, to speak as he did just now, was, he thought, a little too soon. Following the tracks they came in sight of the elk. These were grouped and feeding on a side hill, perhaps a hundred in number.

"Let us crawl up as close as we can," said the young hunter. And when they had reached the last cover, he sat down and took stock of some arrows he took out of his quiver. Scanning and straightening these, he suggested to Papamotao that each one pick from opposite sides of the herd. And the older man nodded assent.

Perhaps there is no finer sight of its kind than a herd of elk in the autumn feeding on the slope of a hill, the spot they are on open prairie, and the ridge and other portions of the bill covered with a dense growth of timber, and this now in rich tinting. The elk are at this season prime and beautiful. From the spring calf to the oldest cow or bull in the herd, all are sleek and clean and fat. Symmetrical beauty and graceful action are here in wonderful perfection, and one almost shrinks from disturbing the magnificent sight before him. Thus thought White Buffalo, and Papamotao, as they sat and watched this herd. But their mission was hides and meat; the caching of provisions for future use was now their business, and sentiment must be brushed aside. And now our hunters, having looked their fill of the scene, began to select, and with a sign to the other White Buffalo pulled his bow, and sent the arrow into the vitals of a big farrow cow on whose rump and brisket the thick heavy fat was clearly apparent. The herd had hardly moved, as the cow jumped, and quick and straight there came another arrow into the lungs of a monster bull, and in a very short time these dropped to the face of the hill, and were vomiting blood from mouth and nostril, and dying fast. But close to them others of their kind were dropping under the same unerring aim, and in an incredibly short time White Buffalo had six fine fat elk as his share of the hunt. In the meanwhile Papamotao had secured two, and then spent the rest of the time watching White Buffalo shoot.

"Why," said he, "you could kill as many as you have arrows for. You are wonderful, my son." And White Buffalo smiled his quiet smile and said:

"Thus it is given to me to do" " Yes, we know that," came the older man's answer.

Eight big elk to be carefully skinned and butchered, and the meat laid so as not to heat, and scare signals put up to frighten off the prowling wolf or bear, and carrion kind, means a lot of work, and it was dark and after before our hunters reached the lodges and relieved the anxious inmates as to the reason for their prolonged absence. Nagos had felt a new experience when darkness came and her lord and lover came not, and now she could not suppress her joy at his entrance, and his heart bounded in response to her manifest delight. And the faithful Snake Skin, observing all this, was happy in their great happiness. And then he went out and looked at the stars and thought much concerning the Little Star. His day was coming, so he fondly hoped. That evening, as all the principals were gathered in the one lodge, Papamotao told the story of the hunt, and commented on the marvellous archery of White Buffalo. He said he had met with some fine bowmen in his day, but certainly to kill six elk without losing or breaking an arrow or missing a shot was most wonderful skill. And Niska chimed in with his father's version of the killing of the five caribou last winter, when White Buffalo and Snake Skill with them in the north.

"Ah!" said Papamotao, "that was what you were doing last winter when you were so long away?"

"Oh," said his motherly wife, "White Buffalo was doing something more than hunting caribou last winter." And then all laughed, as both our hero and his beautiful bride blushed and joined in the fun.

"He was hunting Nagos," said Snake Skin, "and I as his friend had to travel many weary long distances because of his hunting her."

"Yes, but what about the Little Star?" questioned Nagos. And the laugh was on Skin, as Nagos told her new friends about her cousin, or younger sister, Achakosis, and how they had extreme difficulty in bringing Snake Skin back from the northern country. Then White Buffalo said:

"We now have the meat and hides of eleven elk and moose, and we must look after all this before we hunt any more."

"That is right," answered Papamotao, so it was arranged that the men of the party would bring in the meat and hides on morrow, and then help for another day in drying the meat and gathering the wood, and keeping up the fires around camp, and also prepare a strong cache wherein to store the provisions and skins and hides they would not be able to move when they joined some of the other camps. These caches must be made strong enough to withstand the wolverine, who was the most persistent and bold of the wild animals frequenting this part of the country. Many a carelessly made cache had this cunning brute destroyed, and our party had now extra employment in circumventing the wolverine, and all other predatory animals, except man. And the latter were so few and so scattered over this great big wilderness, the chances were that he would not find the cache. And if he did, such was the simple honesty of the people, that the cache when found would remain unmolested. Of course, if aliens made the discovery, then all would be destroyed.

After two days spent in steady work in bringing in meat and hides, and helping around camp, and building cache, White Buffalo and Papamotao left Snake Skin and Niska to go on with this work, and again went out on the hunt. As usual, they started very early, and the day was still young when they tracked an enormous moose. Papamotao said:

"Young man, you place him and look for him, and I will follow." And White Buffalo took the lead and brought them on to the big fellow and killed him. And it was while they were skinning and butchering the moose that Papamotao caught sight of an object moving across an opening in the timber, and to satisfy himself went over to make sure, and was some little time gone when White Buffalo heard a call, and feeling that something was wrong with his friend, seized his bow and quiver and dashed off at a quick run in the direction the call came from. Soon he heard sounds of a tussle, and here was a large cinnamon bear crunching up his friend and counsellor. He saw that he dare not use his arrows, and flung aside his bow and quiver, and rushed in with his hunting knife, and as the bear was on top of Papainotao, White Buffalo straddled the bear, and sent the knife into him with his right hand, and grabbed him by the ear and side of the head with the other, and so astonished was Bruin that he leaped away from the prostrate man, and carried his new assailant with him, astride his back. But White Buffalo was using his knife all this time with great energy, and the life blood of the bear was gushing forth in such volume that he soon staggered and stumbled, and the agile hunter was free from his strange ride, and ran back to his friend, who was altogether conscious, and had watched the unique ride, though pretty well hurt by the bear.

White Buffalo found that Papamotao's right arm was broken and the flesh of it sorely mangled. Other- wise, excepting a few scratches on his back, he was unhurt. Very soon he had him up, and, cutting up one of his own buckskin leggings into wrapping and binding, he improvised some splints, and tied up his friend's arm and then made a fire and ran back for some of the tit-bits of the moose, and in a short time had these broiling over the blaze. While Papamotao ate, White Buffalo skinned and cut up the bear, and having fixed the meat and hides of both moose and bear, he took Papamotao's arm, and thus they went back to camp, both profoundly thankful that Papamotao's life was spared. The latter made light of his wounds, but they had to rest many times on the way home. The loss of blood and the struggle had taken the strength from Papamotao, and it was night when they reached the lodges.

Once more the Little Mother's big heart was all in a flutter. Where was White Buffalo? But presently in he came humming a love song of his own which he had made up during these few days of his great happiness, and Nagos was glad.

But what was the matter in the next lodge? Something had happened. Papamotao's wife had called out in alarm, and White Buffalo explained that one of Snake Skin's ardent friends, the bears, had also taken to handling Papamotao, and he was hurt, but he hoped that his old friend would be all right in a few nights.

"What can we do?" said Nagos. "Why, we can carefully and gently bind up his arm which is broken, and dress his wounds," said White Buffalo. "First he will want to eat, and then rest a little, and then you and I will fix him."

"That is right," said Snake Skin, "Nagos is a splendid medicine herself." "You mean the Little Star, do you not?" answered Nagos, and Niska laughed arid said he thought Snake Skin vas always thinking about the Star's beauty and goodness; at any rate he was always singing about them. And Snake Skin told Niska that he would not go out tripping with him any more if he was going to tell everybody about his singing.

When supper was over, and Papamotao's arm set and bound, and his wounds dressed, in which Nagos had a leading part, for she was one of those among women born to nurse, and who come into the art thereof as by birthright, and Papamotao had thanked her over and over, and our party was gathered in his lodge, he told them of the day's hunt, and how he had caught a glimpse of some living object and ran over to see what it was. And here was the big cinnamon turning a log over, and picking up the grubs, and he had let an arrow fly at him but had missed his aim by a hand's breadth, hitting the bear too far forward and the bear instead of running away jumped for me and had me down, and broke my arm, and I do not know what he would have done, had not White Buffalo come to my help and rode him off."

At this they all laughed. "Yes, you may laugh," said Papaniotao, " for I, pained and sore, had to laugh. when I saw the bear jumping away with my friend on his back, and sitting him as if he was a horse. But then you know White Buffalo is not like other men. I have travelled far and seen many queer and funny things, but this experience today is new. To ride a bear on the gallop and kill him as he jumps, and to save your friend's life at the same time, is something worth while. That is what White Buffalo did today, besides killing a big buck moose, and cooking my dinner as well. And if you, my wife and children, value me as husband and father, then you must, next to the Great Good Spirit, thank White Buffalo." And the mother and family broke out in a thanksgiving song of gratitude to the Good Spirit, and to White Buffalo.

For days the hunt went on, and provisions were made and baled, and also manufactured into pemmican, and hides were fleshed and scraped and made into parchment for future tanning and dressing and smoking, and in all this each one had a part. Papamotao, being crippled and sore, looked after the horses, and became a general scout for the camp. The food pile in the cache grew every day, and White Buffalo's restless energy was very apparent. In a little while the cache was full, and Papamotao was able to travel and Snake Skin was almost himself again. So, packing up, our party of two lodges moved southward in search of White Buffalo's parents and the rest of their people.

The day of their breaking camp did not pass without incident, for it was during its hours that Niska was chased by a roused and wicked moose bull, which he had tantalized by wounding with one of his arrows. Niska was alone when he found the fresh track of the moose, and the weather being propitious he approached quite close, and let his arrow fly, but only succeeded in making the bull vexed, and though he sent another arrow, this added to the big fellow's wrath, and he came for his assailant savagely. Niska turned and fled across through some scrub, and then out through the open on a stretch for some large trees in the next bluff of timber, hoping to be able to dodge among these, and possibly climb one. However, the moose was gaining fast, and it seemed that he would catch Niska long before the trees could be reached. On for his life ran the brother of Nagos, and coming behind him was the huge bull moose who, if he had not been so fat, would have made quick work of racing Niska. But just then White Buffalo came upon the scene, and his quick sense took in the situation and away he bounded with all speed to the rescue. He thought first of pulling an arrow, then he bethought him of his knife, and said to himself:

"I will play the wolf this time, and show yonder bull what can be done, that is, if I catch him before he is on Niska." And as he thought of Niska, he also thought of Nagos, and sprang quicker and further and faster to save, if possible, her much-loved brother. Poor Niska was running for life, and "all that a man hath will he give for his life." Niska was giving limb and lung and all his strength to flee from the mad bull, and did not know that help was coming. The bull also was giving all attention to this impudent biped who had dared disturb his lordliness by sending sharp, stinging darts into his flesh. He could feel them now as he spurted after his victim. But he did not feel the approach of the strong, swift runner man who was now close upon him, and who, pulling his knife from its scabbard deftly cut the tendons of the big moose's legs and had him hamstrung, and incapable of doing more than rising onto his front legs and shaking his great antlers in impotent rage. While White Buffalo shouted to Niska and asked him what he was running so fast for, and the boy turning to look, could hardly believe his eyes, for there was the helpless moose, and beside him stood his wonderful brother-in-law, now more wonderful than ever in Niska's mind and affection. Then while White Buffalo sent him to intercept the party and to tell Papamotao to camp as soon as he could in order that they might take in the meat and hide of the moose, and while the boy went on his errand White Buffalo killed the moose and skinned and cut him up ready for packing into camp.

In the meantime Snake Skin was hunting bear, and this day his luck was turned, for he killed two fine large bears and ran no risks in doing so. This greatly encouraged him, and as Papamotao said, broke the spell of ill-luck which had come across his path. Nagos congratulated him on recovering his breath, and remarked that doubtless his eloquence would come back in full force, and perhaps stronger than ever, and he answered that one needed the gift of eloquence to do her justice, and she quickly replied "You mean the Little Star," and Snake Skin blushed and was silent.

That night around the camp fire Niska gave a very vivid description of his race with the big moose, and wondered when he would be able to shoot as straight as White Buffalo could. He told how he had fired two arrows at the bull, and only succeeded in making him raging mad, and how tremendous the monster did look when he charged straight for him; "and of course," said he, "there was nothing to do but to run, and run I did with all my breath, but the big fellow came thundering right after me, and crashing through the scrub and out on to the plain, and then I saw the big trees and made for them with all my soul. I could feel him coming behind me and I raced for my life. Then all of a sudden some one shouted to me, and I heard a voice: 'Ho, there what are you running so fast for?' And I looked and there was White Buffalo standing beside the great big bull, and the bull was down on his haunches, and could not get up, and he was shaking his big head, and I said to myself: 'That is the work of that wonderful man, Nesta. He had run up from behind and hamstrung the bull. Did you ever hear of any man doing such a deed before? I tell you, my sister, your husband surpasses all others. He is swift, he is strong, he is brave, even if he is my Neesta, I must tell it out. Even if he is your husband, my sister, I will speak the truth and say, 'White Buffalo is a great man.'"

And Nagos looked at her husband and smiled in contentment because of her possession of him. And Snake Skin spoke up:

"Yes, Niska, you may be proud and thankful too; for if it had not been for White Buffalo we might be mourning tonight, instead of rejoicing as we are. If the Great Spirit spares your life in the days and moons to come, you will see and hear many, things to make you glad and proud that you became related to our young chief. What he did today is just like he has been doing for many winters and summers. He loves to save life. Why, he even spared his enemies. He thinks nothing of risking his own life to save that of another. Wait until you reach the lodges of our people, and from many lips you will hear tales of his bravery and kindness."

Those were wonderful days when our hero, having won his bride, was bringing her home. It was the season of gladness. All nature was in unison; spring and summer had done their work, and now the rich autumn in its fulness was queen, and the earth was glad. The whole animal creation, now in its prime, now in the season of its matings, was full of rejoicing. This was apparent in the loud strong calls that came from the depth of forest, or might be heard where gorgeous timber lands reaching out intercepted the creamy, golden pastures. Moose and elk and the deer species, the "White" and "Black Tails," those exquisitely beautiful creatures, were gathering up in herds and flocks, and the testing time was on, and loud challenging calls answered each other across the valley, and resounded among the hills. Thus it was with the strong animal life which abounded in the forest land of the great Northwest at this time.

Moreover, the great flocks of myriad fowl, who had spent the summer in the far north on the west shores of the Hudson's Bay, and out on the confines of the great timberless barren level, and in that immense region known as the Athabasca country, where in countless multitude they had mated and nested and brought forth their young and later had moulted and again taken on their new and beautiful plumage. And now, in the strength of their freshness and maturity, and with the full force of the great north behind them, these were beginning their flight south ward!. All night long, they came through the listening air. The swish of their wings, the call of bird to bird, swan. and goose. and many varieties of duck and millions of waveys, and to give change the loon would ever and anon sound forth his loud clear note which seemed to say:

"And I am also travelling, even I am moving south with my friends."

And thus among such scenes and sounds our little party was slowly travelling southward. To Nagos this land was new. Her life had been limited by the stretch of lake, and the sweep and bend of stream. Interminable forest country had been her home. Low land region was where she came from. But now, these wonderful prairie valleys, these gently sloping hillsides, these beautiful placings of timber on the plain, these wonderful summits of hill ranges, from which one could look and look, and it did seem as if there was no end. Beauty and glory everywhere. And here was White Buffalo beside her, her lord and master, the one whom she had dreamed of and longed for, and unto whom she had sent out her spirit on distant quests, and had never rested until she found him and became conscious of his welfare, and had felt her whole being to rejoice in the consciousness of his seeking her. And now what had been desired was truly and fully possessed. Her husband was with her, and she knew he loved her.

Though their honeymoon had but begun, already he had shown himself to be both brave and good, and every day of their journey was proving to her that this man the Great Spirit had given to her as her mate was worthy of her strongest love. With White Buffalo, these days seemed to him as if they were at the summit of his fate. Ever since that time some thirteen moons agone when he first caught a glimpse of a lone maiden flitting in and out around the solitary lodge in the far northland, his love had been constant and true. On hunting field, away in the distant west on the war path. when with the multitude, or in absolute aloneness, he had forever thought of and dreamed about Nagos. For her he had hunted, for her he had scouted, for her he had fought, for her he had done many brave acts. for her he had raced against the champion and won, for her he had besought the spirits many times, for her he had travelled night and day, and wearied not. And now, with the blessing of her parents, with the spirits smiling upon him, with his own spirit of his dream, his Pawakun, giving him his benediction, with the rich warm full love of Nagos speaking through her beautiful eyes. and every act, into his inmost soul, he now possessed her. Thus, these young people were filled with supreme happiness, and to them at this time this world was a scene of joy, and Snake Skin, the faithful companion, the constant friend, he looked on with satisfaction sublime. White Buffalo was happy, therefore Snake Skin rejoiced.

And Papamotao, the older man, the discoverer of our hero, as he claimed, the man of discernment and of much experience gained by his great travels, would say: White Buffalo is as my son. I saw his goodness; I knew he was wiser than most men. I believed he was brave. And now, behold, he is our leader, and I am proud, and I rejoice with him in his great joy. The spirits led him to discover a beautiful maiden who has become his wife. Every day since I saw her, I am thankful for his sake, for our people's sake. White Buffalo is well mated, and this makes my heart glad." And the women of Papamotao's camp had already grown to love Nagos for her own sake. She had won their affection, and Papamotao's wife was as a mother unto her, and his daughters were as sisters. And in such mood and amid such environment, our little company travelled southward. Two days after Niska's race with the big bull moose they struck camp, and during their first day's journey, saw signs of the vicinity of people. These they expected to be their friends. However, Snake Skin and Niska scouted ahead and came back with the news that their people in goodly number were encamped in the valley of the Swan. To White Buffalo this was cheery news; to Nagos, cool and collected as she generally was, the knowledge that her husband's people were near by, and that she, a perfect stranger, would soon enter their lodges, caused her to feel embarrassed. But Snake Skin, quickly noticing the effect of his news, said:

"And now, Nagos, in a little while, with the sun still high today, you will be in the lodge of your new mother. She is longing to see you. Already in her heart she loves you, and all the women of our camp will welcome you. From today while you live, Nagos, the hearts of our people will be full of love for you. Cheer up, my sister, and be brave."

And Papamotao's wife came up, and learning of the news of the big camp's vicinity, cheered her with loving words. Niska also was greatly abashed. He was curious and he was glad, but he wondered how he would go among these people of forest and plain, so different in life from his own friends. For him also Snake Skin had kind words:

"I will look after you, Niska, you are as my younger brother. Where I go you will come."

Then, as was the custom, everyone took extra pains with their toilet. Paints and feathers and ornaments and articles of apparel were produced, and speedily costume and color made wonderful change with our little company. All but Nagos had made use of the several colored ochre. She was as ever herself, and when Papamotao's wife and daughters urged her to paint, she smilingly refused, and Papamotao and Snake Skin said:

"Let her be, the Great Spirit has painted Nagos. Let her be even as he made her."

And now they moved on up the valley and across the plain and over the brow of the hill, and here at their feet were the lodges of the prairie and wood Crees. This was a new sight for the maiden and lad of the North Wind Maker's camp. Never had they seen as many people convened and camped together in their lives hitherto. Never had they beheld so many horses. These great big lodges, eighteen and twenty-skin tents, all made of the hides of the buffalo, standing out there, some of them in the distance spotlessly white, others with painted panels, denoting that they were the homes of distinguished men, all with great ear flaps and ventilators reaching out heavenward. And from the ex treme points hanging from these were buffalo tail tassels, giving them fitting and unique appearance. In and among the lodges were the stagings upon which meat was drying. And here and there were big frames upon which the hides of the animals were stretched. Dog and horse travois were put up and leaning against each other all over the encampment. And to Nagos and Niska a new world was dawning. But now they are seen. Here comes a horseman at full gallop, and he merely pauses to look at the new bride and to cast a glance of welcome at White Buffalo, and he dashes his horse to and fro, and in so doing has signalled to the camp:

"White Buffalo is here; our friends have returned."

Then he makes back in a mad gallop to muster up the horsemen, and to call on all who have guns and powder: Come forth and salute with loud welcome White Buffalo and bride!"

As he rides through the camp he hastily says to this young woman on this side and to another on the other side, "Verily, she is beautiful," and these young maidens of White Buffalo's camp were not jealous. He rode to the door of the lodge of White Buffalo's parents, and threw his voice into the waiting mother's heart:

"Your children are here! Come forth and give them welcome!"

If we had been there that glorious autumn day, and beheld the enthusiasm of the people, "these wild people," "these savage nomads" (as men have called them), as they fired their guns and filled their lungs, and sang their songs, and royally welcomed White Buffalo and Nagos, and when they beheld her felt that here indeed was a maiden worthy of their young chief, whom they all loved, and of whom they were so proud, I say, if we had been there, and looked upon this joyous scene, and listened to the conversation that took place on every hand, we would have said, "these are gentlefolk; these are manly men; these are true-hearted woman, and not savages."

There was great joy in that camp, joy in the mother's heart. Her son had brought his bride, and quietly said, "another child for you to love, my mother." And Nagos at once felt that she could be at home and safe with such a mother. The aged chief came forth and gave them his blessing. The medicine man sang a hymn, and benedicted them with an incantation. The seer vent into a trance, and sent his spirit into the far future, and returning strolled to and fro among the lodges and told the people that this man and this woman would prove to be a very great blessing to them all. Said he:

"Their future is bright; this union is good; this maiden from the far north, and this man of our hearts, will be a great blessing among our people."

And many drums did beat, and many love songs were improvised and sung, and the occasion of White Buffalo and Nagos reaching their home from their honeymoon trip was made glorious by much rejoicing in the large camp.

The next day there was a big council, and the autumn movements were discussed. The question came up, "Shall we go to war this fall?" and a shout came back in answer: 'Yes, yes."

But Papamotao arose in his place and spoke as follows: "My friends, let us stop and think. Have we not by common consent made White Buffalo our war chief? Though very young he has excelled us who are older, in skill and wisdom in war. Those of us who have been with him in danger know full well that his heart is as brave as it is good. For myself, I would say, let there be no going to war unless he leads and as it would be unkind and improper for him to go far from his lodge at this time, when he has but now brought home to his fireside the wife of his choice, to me it would be wrong for us as a people to ask White Buffalo to lead any of our young men on the war path this fall. I would rather, if you would listen to me, my friends, say unto you, (remember, I have gone with you often to war; remember I am not shrinking from going on the long road against our enemies), but at this time I would say, let there be no war party go out from us this autumn. Let us rather move on out to the plains and meet the great herds as they come north, and make much provision and prepare for the winter, and then if we are alive when the next spring comes, let us be ready for the warpath. Then it will be fitting for White Buffalo to lead us forth, and be again as he has been, our successful and victorious war chief. Who among you would want him, after his long seeking, after his patient wooing, after his winning this wonderful woman that he has brought home to our lodges, after that we have beheld her, and rejoiced with him because of his possessing her, I say unto you, my people, who would have the heart to ask White Buffalo to leave his young wife and go out to danger and possible death. Besides all this, there is no need for it. We have had bloodshed enough for one summer. Our warriors have been victorious sufficient for one season. White Buffalo has won for us sufficient glory for this time. Let him rest beside the maiden of his choice. Let him stay home to gladden her heart and the hearts of his parents. This, my friends, is what I would have you to do."

Long before he sat down he knew he had won. Quick came the response from young and old, "Yes, yes, so let it be. What you have said is proper and good. We will not go to war; we will go out on the big hunt, and in the meantime every heart will rejoice with White Buffalo."


 


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