Short Stories » The Dance of the Little People
The Dance of the Little People - Page 2 of 6
"Ho, ho, hechetu!" they all replied, in chorus.
"This is our first mouse-hunt this season, and you all know the custom. We must first make our tiny bows and arrows," he said, again.
"Tosh, tosh! Of course!" said they all.
In the late afternoon the sun shone warmly and everything was still in the woods, but upon the lake the occasional -cry of the loon was heard. At some distance from the camp thirty or more little redskins met together to organize their mimic deer-hunt. They imitated closely the customs and manners of their elders while hunting the deer. Shungela gave the command, and all the boys advanced abreast, singing their hunting song, until they reached the meadow-land.
Here the leader divided them into two parties, of which one went twenty paces in advance, and with light switches raked aside the dead grass, exposing a net-work of trails. The homes of the Little People were under- ground, and the doors were concealed by last year's rank vegetation. While they kneeled ready to shoot with the miniature bow and arrows the first fugitives that might pass, the second party advanced in turn, giving an imitation of the fox-call to scare the timorous Little People. These soon became bewildered, missed their holes, and were shot down with unerring aim as they fled along their furrow-like paths.
There was a close rivalry among the boys to see who could bring down the largest number of the tiny fugitives, but it was forbidden to open the homes or kill any who were in hiding.
In a few minutes the mice were panic-stricken, running blindly to and fro, and the excitement became general.
" Yehe, yehe! There goes their chief! A white mouse!" exclaimed one of the boys.
"Stop shooting!" came the imperative command from the shaggy-haired boy.
" It is a good sign to see their chief, but it is a very bad sign if we kill any after we have seen him," he explained.
"I have never heard that this is so," demurred Shungela, unwilling to yield his authority.
"You can ask your grandmother or your grandfather to-night, and you will find that I am right," retorted the shaggy-haired one.
11 Woo, woo !" they called, and all the others came running.
" Plow many of you saw the white mouse ?" Teola asked.
"I saw it!" "I too!" "I too!" replied several.
" And how many have heard that to see the chief of the mouse people brings good luck if the mice are spared after his appearance, but that whoever continues to kill them invites misfortune?"
"I have heard it!" "And I!" "And I!" The replies were so many that all the boys were willing to concede the authenticity of the story, and the hunt was stopped.
" Let us hear the mouse legends again this evening. My grandfather will tell them to us," Teola suggested, and not a boy there but was ready to accept the invitation.