Short Stories » Wild Animals from the Indian Stand-Point
Wild Animals from the Indian Stand-Point - Page 3 of 7
Katola gave them a song without words, the musical, high-pitched syllables forming a simple minor cadence, and ending with a trill. There was a sort of chorus, in which all the men joined, while Katola kept time with two sticks, striking one against the other, and Washaka, the little son of the host, danced in front of them around the embers of the central fire. The song finished, the pipe was silently smoked, passed and re- passed around the circle.
At last old Hohay laid it aside, and struck a dignified attitude, ready to give the rest of his story.
' Katola is right in one way," he admitted. ' He cannot be blamed for having never seen what has been witnessed by other hunters. We believe what we ourselves see, and we are guided by our own reason and not that of another. Stop me when I tell you a thing hard to believe. I may know it to be true, but I cannot compel you to believe it."
Kangee could not contain himself any longer, but exclaimed :
“I have even known the coyote to make her pups carry and pile the bones of the buffalo away from their den!"
'Ugh, ugh!" responded the old man. "You compel me to join Katola. That is hard to prove, and while the coyote is a good trainer and orderly, and it is true that their old bones are sometimes found outside the den, I have never before heard that she makes the little ones pile them. I am not willing to put that into my bag of stories.
" Now, as to the ability of the doe to fight. When I was a boy, I hunted much with my father. He was a good coyote he trained well and early. One spring we were living in the woods where there was very little game, and had nothing to eat but musk-rats. My father took me with him on a long deer- hunt. We found a deer-lick beside a swollen pond. The ground was soft around the pond, with reeds and rushes.
‘Here we shall wait,' said my father.
"We lay concealed in the edge of the woods facing a deer -path opposite. In a little while a doe appeared on the trail. We saw that she was in full flight, for her tongue was protruding and she breathed hard. She immediately waded out to the middle of the pond and stood with only her head out of water.
"On her trail a large gray wolf came running, followed by his mate. The first, with- out hesitation, swam out to the doe. She reared upon her hind-feet as he approached, raising both of her front hoofs above the water. The wolf came on with mouth wide open and grinning rows of teeth to catch her tender throat, but her pointed hoofs struck his head again and again, so rapidly that we could not count the blows, which sounded like a war-club striking against a rock. The wolf disappeared under the water.
"Just at this moment the other wolf emerged from the rushes and hastened to the assistance of her mate. The doe looked harmless, and she swam up to her. But the same blows were given to her, and she, too, disappeared. In a little while two furry things floated upon the surface of the pond.
'My father could not restrain his admiration for her brave act ; he gave a war-whoop, and I joined him heartily."
' Ho, ho ! You did not shoot the doe, did you?" they asked.
'If we did that, we would be cowards," replied the story-teller. 'We let her go free, although we were in need of food. It was then 1 knew for the first time that even the doe while in flight watches every chance to make a good defence. She was helpless on dry land, so she deliberately awaited the wolves in the deep water, where she could overcome them. Thereafter, when I hunt I keep this in my mind. My game is fully awake to the situation, and I must use my best efforts and all my wits to get him. They think, and think well, too."
"It is all true," Kangee assented, enthusiastically. "The buffalo is the wisest of all the larger four-footed people," he went on, "in training the young calf."