Short Stories » Hootay of the Little Rosebud

Hootay of the Little Rosebud - Page 5 of 5

Hootay was in sad trouble, for he had tumbled right into a deep gully filled to the brim with soft snow, and the more he struggled the deeper he was sinking. Zechah perceived the situation, and made ready to send the fatal arrow.

Hootay waved ,his right paw pitifully. There was something human-like about him. The Indian's heart beat fast with excitement. Weakened by his long fast, he scarcely saw or heard clearly, but, according to the traditions of his people, the old bear addressed him in these words:

'No, Zechah, spare an old warrior's life!

My spirit shall live again in you. You shall be henceforth the war prophet and medicine-man of your tribe. I will remain here, so that your people may know that you have conquered Hootay, the chief of the Little Rosebud country."

It is not certain that he really said this, but such was the belief of the hunter. He put his arrow back in the quiver, and immediately, according to custom, he took his pipe from his belt and smoked the pipe of peace.

A huge piece of meat was suspended from his shoulders above the quiver, and, with his bow firmly grasped in the right hand, Zechah addressed his friend Shunkmanitoo :

"Ho, kola, you have eaten what is yours; leave mine for my starving people!"

The wolf got up and trotted away as if he understood, while Zechah hurried back on his own trail with tidings of life and happiness.

He ran as often as he came to open ground, and in a short time stood upon the top of the hill with the little group of teepees just below him. The smoke from each arose sadly in a straight column, tapering upward until lost ill the blue. Not a soul stirred and all was quiet as the dead.

"Ho, he ya hay!" the hunter chanted aloud, and ended with a war-whoop. Out of the sleepy -looking teepees there came a rush of men and women. Old High Head appeared with outstretched hands, singing and pouring forth praises. 'Hi, hi, hi, hi!" he uttered his thanks, in a powerful voice, still stretching his arms to heaven.

Hintola was the quietest and most composed of them all. She went first to meet her husband, for it was the custom that, when the son - in - law returns with game, his wife must meet him outside the camp and bring back food to her parents.

Having distributed the meat in small pieces, High Head announced his son-in- law's success as a hunter, and solicited all who were able to join him in going after the remainder. He ended with a guttural song of cheer and gladness.

It was then Zechah told of his meeting with the other wild hunters, and how Hootay was conquered and imprisoned in the snow.

"Ugh, ugh!" grunted High Head, with much satisfaction. "This means a war-bonnet for my son-in-law a story for coming generations!"

But the hunter did not repeat the bear's words to himself until he had become a famous war prophet. When the people went after the meat, they found the old warrior lying dead without a wound, and with one accord they made a proper offering in his honor.

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