Short Stories » The Challenge

The Challenge - Page 3 of 8

"Ah, but he has often been seen to run after elk, deer, and even buffalo to save his own scalp from the wolves when he is pursued!" Thus Charging Bear came to the rescue of his friend.

And so they joked while Antler filled the pipe.

' We must take only one or two short whiffs," he reminded them, as he crowded down the mixture of tobacco and willow bark into the red bowl. It was the time of hunting and running, when men do not smoke much, and the young men not at all.

Having finished their smoke, they arose and followed the trail of the elk. The animal shot by Flying Bee lay dead not far away, with an arrow sticking out of the opposite side of its body, for he was a powerful man. Soon they came to two does lying dead, but there were no arrows, and the wounds were not arrow wounds.

"Ho, kola, hun-hun-hay! Surely you could not use your knife while running bow in hand?" remarked Black Hawk.

" We shall make it a rule hereafter that no one shall use any strange or unusual weapon," added Many Arrows, jestingly.

"You see now how a Bee can sting!" chimed in Charging Bear, in much mirth and admiration for the feat of his friend.

This, or something not unlike it, was now their daily experience, while their wives busily dressed the skins of their game and cured such of the meat as they cared to save. Each man kept a mental record of his shots for future reference, and all bore with un- failing good-humor the kindly ridicule of their fellows. They often hunted singly, yet the tendency was to be on the lookout for one another as well as for them- selves, knowing that they were always in more or less peril from ferocious animals, as well as from the enemies of their people. They would also send out one of their number from time to time to scout the ground over which they expected to hunt on the following day.

'Ho, koowah yay yo, kola!" was the cry of Black Hawk, one evening, inviting his companion hunters to feast at his lodge. He had been appointed to scout the field south of their camp, and, having explored the country thoroughly, was ready to make his report.

'The land south of us, along the river," said he, "is well peopled with elk, deer, and beaver, and the prairie adjoining is full of buffalo. As far as the eye can see, their herds are countless. But, friends, ' ' he added, ;< there are also bears in this region. I have seen them, and I saw many of their fresh tracks."

Black Hawk was a clever scout, and could imitate both the actions and call of any animal so as almost to deceive his fellow-hunters. He had covered considerable ground that afternoon.

' There is, however, no recent sign of any of our enemies, and the game is better than in any year that I have come here," he said again.

'Ho, ho, ho!" was the chorus of thanks from the others.

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