Short Stories » The Challenge
The Challenge - Page 8 of 8
Now one was pushed bodily along for some distance, and now the other was pressed back. At one time both kneeled down and held each other fast with locked horns. Again they were up and tugging with all their strength. The elk women were excitedly calling and stamping in a circle around their lovers and champions, who paid no heed to them.
At last the monarch made a rush with all the strength that was left him. He turned the body of the challenger half-way round. Quick as a flash he pulled off and jabbed three prongs of his horns deep into the other's side. But, alas! at that moment he received an equal wound in his own body. Exhausted by loss of blood, they soon abandoned the contest. Each walked a few steps in an opposite direction, and lay down, never to rise again!
All of the hunters now descended and hurried to the spot, while the elk women fled in a great thunder of hoofs. They wished to give to the two combatants a warrior's homage.
The challenger was already dead. The monarch was still living, but his life was ebbing so fast that he did not even notice their approach.
Flying Bee held his filled pipe toward the fallen king. ' Let thy spirit partake of this smoke, Hehaka!" he exclaimed. 'May I have thy courage and strength when I meet my enemy in battle!"
It is the belief of the Indian that many a brave warrior has the- spirit of a noble animal working in him.
The five hunters were so greatly touched by -this event that they returned to camp empty-handed out of respect for the brave dead. They left handfuls of cut tobacco beside each of the elk, and Black Hawk took off one of the two eagle feathers that he always wore and tied it to the monarch's head.