Short Stories » A Founder of Ten Towns
A Founder of Ten Towns - Page 2 of 5
The coyote and badger could easily lie flat behind the mound and spring upon the prairie-dog when he comes out of his hole. The Sioux boy could do the same with his horse-hair noose. But these wild hunters, with full knowledge of the deadly rattlesnake, dare not expose themselves in such a fashion. The snake, on his side, gets his food much easier there than anywhere else, since all kinds of small birds come there for seeds. Further, his greatest enemies are certain large birds which do not fear his poison, but swoop down, seize him, and eat him in mid-air. From this danger he is safer in a dog-town than elsewhere, owing to the multitude of holes, which arc ingeniously dug upward and off at one side from the main burrow, and are much better than the snake can provide for himself.
Pezpeza was like all the young people of his tribe. He loved play, but never played with the snake young people on the contrary, he would stand at a safe distance and upbraid them until they retired from his premises. It was not so with the children of the little herald, the owl. In fact, he had played with them ever since he could re- member, and the attachment between them became permanent. Wherever Pezpeza goes, the little owl always comes and sits near by upon some convenient mound. If any hawk is in sight, and if he should see it first, he would at once give the warning and Pezpeza would run for his house.
Every day some prairie-dog left the town in quest of a new home. The chief reason for this is over-population hence, scarcity of food; for the ground does not yield a sufficient quantity for so many.
One morning, as he was coming out of their house, Pezpeza found his father lying dead within the entrance. At first he would not go by, but at last he left the house, as did the rest of the family. None returned to their old home. The mother and children built a new house on the edge of the town, dangerously near a creek, and the old home-stead was after that owned by a large rattle-snake family who had always loafed about the place. The new home was a good one, and the new ground yielded an abundant crop, but they were harassed by the wolves and wild-cats, because they were near the creek and within easy approach.
Pezpeza was out feeding one morning with a brother when all at once the owl gave the warning. They both ran for the house, and Pezpeza got in safe, but his brother was carried off by a wolf.
When he came out again, the place was not like what it used to be to him. He had a desire to go somewhere else, and off he started without telling any one. He followed an old buffalo-trail which lay over the plain and up the Owl River.
The river wound about among the hills and between deeply cut banks, forming wide bottom - lands, well timbered with cotton-woods. It was a warm day of blue haze in the early spring, and Pezpeza. ran along in excellent spirits. Suddenly a warning screech came from behind, and he lay flat, immovable, upon the path. Ah, it is his friend the young herald, the owl playmate! The owl had seen his young friend run away over the prairie, so he flew to join him, giving no thought to his people or his own affairs.
The herald flew ahead and perched upon a convenient mound until his friend came up; then he went ahead again. Thus the two travelled over the plain until they came to a point where many buffalo skulls lay scattered over the ground. Here, some years before, the Red men had annihilated a herd of buffalo in a great hunt.
As usual, the herald flew ahead and took up his position upon a buffalo skull which lay nose downward. The skull was now bleached white, but the black horns were still attached to it. The herald sat between these honis.
Meanwhile Pezpeza was coming along the buffalo-path at a fairly good speed. Again he heard the danger-call and ran for the nearest skull to hide. He was glad to find that the thin bones of the nose were gone, so that he could easily enter it. He was not any too quick in finding a refuge, for a large eagle swooped down with a rush and sat by the skull. Pezpeza had crouched in the inner cavity, and when he was discovered he made a great show of indignation and fight. But the eagle, having made a careful study of the position of his intended victim, finally flew away, and in due time Pezpeza proceeded on his journey.