Short Stories » The Dance of the Little People
The Dance of the Little People - Page 4 of 6
At this point a few powerful notes of a wild, melodious music burst spontaneously from the throat of the old teacher, for he was wont to strike up a song as a sort of interlude. He threw his massive head back, and his naked chest heaved up and down like a bellows.
"One of you must dance to this part, for the story is of a dance and feast!" he exclaimed, as he began the second stanza.
Teola instantly slipped out of his buffalo- robe and stepped into the centre of the circle, where he danced crouchingly in the firelight, keeping time with his lithe brown body to the rhythm of the legend-teller's song.
"O-o-o-o!" they all hooted at the finish.
' This is the legend of the Little People of the Meadow. Hear ye! hear ye!" said Padanee.
"Ho-o-o!" was the instant response from the throats of the little Red men.
"A long time ago, the bear made a medicine feast, and invited the medicine-men (or priests) of all the tribes. Of each he asked one question, ' What is the best medicine (or magic) of your tribe ?'
" All told except the little mouse. He was pressed for an answer, but replied, 'That is my secret.'
' Thereupon the bear was angry and jumped upon the mouse, who disappeared instantly. The big medicine - man blindly grabbed a handful of grass, hoping to squeeze him to death. But all the others present laughed and said, ' He is on your back !'
"Then the bear rolled upon the ground, but the mouse remained uppermost.
" ' Ha, ha, ha!' laughed all the other medicine-men. 'You cannot get rid of him.'
"Then he begged them to knock him off, for he feared the mouse might run into his ear. But they all refused to interfere.
"'Try your magic on him,' said they, 'for he is only using the charm that was given him by the Great Mystery.'
" So the bear tried all his magic, but without effect. He had to promise the little mouse that, if he would only jump off from his body, neither he nor any of his tribe would ever again eat any of the Little People.
" Upon this the mouse jumped off.
"But now Hinhan, the owl, caught him between his awful talons, and said:
"'You must tell your charm to these people, or I will put my charm on you!'
"The little medicine-man trembled, and promised that he would if the owl would let him go. He was all alone and in their power, so at last he told it.
"'None of our medicine-men,' he began, 'dared to come to this lodge. I alone believed that you would treat me with the respect due to my profession, and I am here.' Upon this they all looked away, for they were ashamed.
"'I am one of the least of the Little People of the Meadow,' said the mouse. 'We were once a favored people, for we were born in the sky. We were able to ride the round moon as it rolls along. We were commissioned at every full moon to nibble off the bright surface little by little, until all was dark. After a time it was again silvered over by the Great Mystery, as a sign to the Earth People.