Short Stories » Wechah The Provider
Wechah The Provider - Page 3 of 6
"Please do not kill him," pleaded Wasula. ' It is a visitor of my pet, whom I am punishing for his misconduct. As you know, he called for help according to the custom of his tribe."
They all laughed heartily, and each Indian tied up his dog for the rest of the night, so that the visitor might get away in safety, while the girl brought her pet to her own bed.
It was the Moon of Falling Leaves, and the band to which Wasula's father belonged were hunting in the deep woods in Minnesota, the Land of Sky-colored Water. The band had divided itself into many small parties for the fall and winter hunt. When this particular party reached Minnetonka, the Big Lake, they found the hunting excellent. Deer were plenty, and the many wooded islands afforded them good feeding - places. The men hunted daily, and the women were busy preparing the skins and curing the meat. Wechah wandered much alone, as Wasula was busy helping her mother.
All went well for many weeks; and even when the snow fell continuously for many a day and the wind began to blow, so that no hunter dared emerge from his teepee, there was dried venison still and all were cheerful. At last the sun appeared.
" Hoye! hoye!" was the cheerful cry of the hunting bonfire - builder, very early in the morning. As it rang musically on the clear, frosty air, each hunter set out, carrying his snow-shoes upon his back, in the pleasant anticipation of a good hunt. After the customary smoke, they all disappeared in the Provider the woods on the north shore of Minnetonka.
Alas! it was a day of evil fortune. There was no warning. In the late afternoon one came back bleeding, singing a death-dirge. "We were attacked by the jib ways! All are dead save myself!"
Thus was the little camp suddenly plunged into deep sorrow and mourning. Doleful wails came forth from every lodge, and the echoes from the many coves answered them with a double sadness.
Again the storm -wind raged. This time the dried meat was gone, and all the women did nothing but bewail their misfortunes. "The evil spirit is upon us!" they cried. "The enemy has taken away our husbands, and now Wazeeyah, the god of storm and winter, is ready to slay us !" So they mourned as those having no hope.
When at last the storm ceased, the snow was very deep. The little ones were famished. There was no meat in the camp and there were no hunters to hunt. They were far from their permanent village upon the Minnesota River. They must have food first, and then try to get back. So, for the children's sake, the brave mothers and elder sisters began to look about them to decide upon some action.
" Wasula, my child, what are you thinking of?" the mother asked.
"Mother, my father taught me to hunt, and he took so much pride in my snow-shoeing ! See, mother, here is one of his quivers full of arrows, and here is a good bow." The girl spoke earnestly. " I can take care of you, mother, until we get back to our relatives. I can shoot as straight as any brave, and my father taught me how to circle a doe or buck to a standstill. Wechah will go with me and guide me, so that I shall not be lost," continued Wasula, with a show of cheerfulness.
' But you must be careful, my child ! The Ojibways are not far away. Some of their warriors will perhaps have a mind to come again, now that they have overcome all the men of our little band," sadly warned the mother.
Meanwhile Wechah sat by watching every motion, as if trying to read their thoughts. He was evidently delighted when Wasula girdled herself and threw her snow-shoes diagonally across her back. He gave one big, Wecha.K the Provider joyous leap and ran out of sight ahead of her as she set out on the hunt. Her poor mother watched her through the pin-holes in the teepee. "Ah, I fear- -I fear the dreadful warriors of the Ojibways!" she muttered.