Short Stories » Wechah The Provider

Wechah The Provider - Page 2 of 6

Wasula had the skin of a buffalo calf's head for a work-bag, beautifully embroidered with porcupine quills about the open mouth, nose, eyes, and ears. She would slip this over Wechah's head and tie his fore-paws together so that he could not pull it off. Then she would take him to the spring under the shadow of the trees and let him look at himself. This was enough punishment for him. Sometimes even the mention of the calf's head was enough to make him submit.

Of course, the little Striped Face could take his leave at any time that he became dissatisfied with his life among the Red people.

Wasttla had made it plain to him that he was free. He could go or stay ; but, apparently, he loved her too well to think of leaving. He would curl himself up into a ball and lie by the hour upon some convenient branch while the girl was cutting wood or sitting under a tree doing her needle - work. He would study her every movement, and very often divine her intentions.

Wasula was a friend to all the little people of the woods, and especially sympathized with the birds in their love-making and home-building. Wechah must learn to respect her wishes. He had once stolen and de- voured some young robins. The parent birds were frantic about their loss, which attracted the girl's attention. The wicked animal was in the midst of his feast.

" Glechu ! glechu (Come down) !" she called, excitedly. He fully understood from the tone that all was not right, but he would not jump from the tree and run for the deep woods, thereby avoiding punishment and gaining his freedom. The rogue came down with all the outward appearance of one who pleads guilty to the charge and throws himself upon the judge's mercy. She at once put him in the calf's head and bound his legs, and he had nothing to eat for a day and a night.

It was a great trial to both of them. Wadetaka, the dog, for whom he had no special love, was made to stand guard over the prisoner so that he could not get away and no other dog could take advantage of his helplessness. Wasula was very sorry for him, but she felt that he must learn his lesson. That night she lay awake for a long time. To be sure, Wechah had been good and quiet all day, but his tricks were many, and she had discovered that his people have danger-calls and calls for help quite different from their hunting and love calls.

After everybody was asleep, even Wade-taka apparently snoring, and the camp-fire was burning low, there was a gentle movement from the calf's - head bag. Wasula uncovered her head and listened. Wechah called softly for help.

"Poor Wechah! I don't want him to be angry with me, but he must let the little birds' homes alone."

Again Wechah gave his doleful call. In a little while she heard a stealthy footfall, Wecha.K the Provider and at the same time Wadetaka awoke and rushed upon something.

It was a large raccoon! He ran up a nearby tree to save himself, for Wadetaka had started all the dogs of the camp. Next the hunters came out. Wasula hurriedly put on her moccasins and ran to keep the men from shooting the rescuer.

Wechah's friend took up his position upon one of the upper limbs of a large oak, from which he looked down with blazing eyes upon a motley crew. Near the root of the tree Wechah lay curled up in a helpless ball. The new - comer scarcely understood how this unfortunate member of his tribe came into such a predicament, for when some one brought a torch he was seen to rise, but immediately fell over again.

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