Short Stories » Hootay of the Little Rosebud

Hootay of the Little Rosebud - Page 4 of 5

Pie waded clumsily through the deep snow, following a dry creek-bed ; and, now and then, from force of habit, he would stealthily climb the bank and scan the field above and below before exposing himself. This was partly for self -protection and partly in the hope of surprising his game.

Presently Hootay came upon the footprint of another hunter. He snarled and put his muzzle closer to the trail when he detected the hateful odor of man. At the same instant he smelled fresh meat.

The very smell seemed to give him a new lease of life, for he sat up on his haunches and began sniffing the air eloquently. His hair was as shaggy as that of an old buffalo-robe, and his age and sitting posture made his hump appear very prominent.

"Waugh, waugh!" the old man grunted, with an air of disgust, for there came to his nose a strong human scent mingled with the savory odor of the life-giving meat.

Zechah distinctly heard the snort of a bear. He seized his bow and quiver full of arrows.

" Can it be that Hootay is near?" he muttered to himself. "He may perhaps add my scalp to the many that he has taken of my people, but I will first send an arrow of mine into his body!"

He rested his bow upon the shaggy head of the dead bull, and went on skinning it with a large knife, working rapidly. Presently the gray wolf approached from another direction.

"Ho, kola, you have guided me to game! It is yours and mine. You, too, shall have meat," he said.

As soon as he had skinned one side, Zechah cut off a generous piece and walked toward Shunkmanitoo, who was sitting upon his haunches, watching him work in that wonderful way with a single sharp thing in his hand. But he did not think it best to trust the wild man too far, for he still carried that sharp thing in his hand as he approached him with the meat. He arose and moved back- ward a few paces.

"Do not fear, kola! Warriors and hunters like ourselves must have faith in each other when they work together for a good cause," the Red man said, again. He placed the meat upon the snow where Shunkmanitoo had been sitting, and returned to his work.

After a time, and with apparent reluctance, the big, burly wolf came back to his meat and examined it. At last he ate of it. It was good. He no longer feared the wild man. From time to time Zechah would throw him a piece of meat until he was satisfied.

The hunter had cleared away the snow around the buffalo, which was now cut up in convenient pieces for carrying. He was exceedingly hungry. He had, indeed, eaten a piece of the liver, which the Sioux always eats raw, but this only served to sharpen his appetite. He had heavy work before him, for he must take some of the meat home to his starving wife, and then bring as many of the people as were able to walk to carry the rest to camp. There were plenty of dry boughs of the pine. He made a fire by rubbing together the pieces of dry cedar -wood which every Indian hunter of that day carried with him, and, broiling strips of the savory meat upon live coals, he ate of it heartily.

Suddenly a fearful growl was heard. Zechah had dismissed the idea of a bear from his mind as soon as his friend Shunkmanitoo appeared. He was taken by surprise. When he looked up, Hootay was almost upon him. He came forward with his immense jaws wide open, his shaggy hair making him look as big as a buffalo bull against the clear whiteness of the landscape.

Shunkmanitoo's chance was small. He occupied the only road to Zechah's position, and there were perpendicular walls of snow on either side of him. His only hope lay in his quickness and agility. As Hootay rushed madly upon him with uplifted paw, the wolf sprang nimbly to one side and well up on the snow-bank. His assailant had to content himself with raking down the snow, and in the effort he plunged into a heavy drift from which he was unable to drag himself.

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