The story of the two young friends
A Sioux Legend
There were once in a very large Indian camp two little boys who were fast friends. One of the boys, "Chaske" (meaning first born), was the son of a very rich family, and was always dressed in the finest of clothes of Indian costume. The other boy, "Hake" (meaning last born), was an orphan and lived with his old grandmother, who was very destitute, and consequently could not dress the boy in fine raiment. So poorly was the boy dressed that the boys who had good clothes always tormented him and would not play in his company.
Chaske did not look at the clothes of any boy whom he chose as a friend, but mingled with all boys regardless of how they were clad, and would study their dispositions. The well dressed he found were vain and conceited. The fairly well dressed he found selfish and spiteful. The poorly clad he found to be generous and truthful, and from all of them he chose "Hake" for his "Koda" (friend). As Chaske was the son of the leading war chief he was very much sought after by the rest of the boys, each one trying to gain the honor of being chosen for the friend and companion of the great chief's son; but, as I have before said, Chaske carefully studied them all and finally chose the orphan Hake.
It was a lucky day for Hake when he was chosen for the friend and companion of Chaske. The orphan boy was taken to the lodge of his friend's parents and dressed up in fine clothes and moccasins. (When the Indians' sons claim any one as their friend, the friend thus chosen is adopted into the family as their own son).
Chaske and Hake were inseparable. Where one was seen the other was not far distant. They played, hunted, trapped, ate and slept together. They would spend most of the long summer days hunting in the forests.
Time went on and these two fast friends grew up to be fine specimens of their tribe. When they became the age to select a sweetheart they would go together and make love to a girl. Each helping the other to win the affection of the one of his choice. Chaske loved a girl who was the daughter of an old medicine man. She was very much courted by the other young men of the tribe, and many a horse loaded with robes and fine porcupine work was tied at the medicine man's tepee in offering for the hand of his daughter, but the horses, laden as when tied there, were turned loose, signifying that the offer was not accepted.
The girl's choice was Chaske's friend Hake. Although he had never made love to her for himself, he had always used honeyed words to her and was always loud in his praises for his friend Chaske. One night the two friends had been to see the girl, and on their return Chaske was very quiet, having nothing to say and seemingly in deep study. Always of a bright, jolly and amiable disposition, his silence and moody spell grieved his friend very much, and he finally spoke to Chaske, saying: "Koda, what has come over you? You who were always so jolly and full of fun? Your silence makes me grieve for you and I do not know what you are feeling so downhearted about. Has the girl said anything to you to make you feel thus?"
"Wait, friend," said Chaske, "until morning, and then I will know how to answer your inquiry. Don't ask me anything more tonight, as my heart is having a great battle with my brain."
Hake bothered his friend no more that night, but he could not sleep. He kept wondering what "Pretty Feather" (the girl whom his friend loved) could have said to Chaske to bring such a change over him. Hake never suspected that he himself was the cause of his friend's sorrow, for never did he have a thought that it was himself that Pretty Feather loved.
The next morning after they had eaten breakfast, Chaske proposed that they should go out on the prairies, and see if they would have the good luck to kill an antelope. Hake went out and got the band of horses, of which there were over a hundred. They selected the fleetest two in the herd, and taking their bows and arrows, mounted and rode away towards the south.
Hake was overjoyed to note the change in his friend. His oldtime jollity had returned. They rode out about five miles, and scaring up a drove of antelope they started in hot pursuit, and as their horses were very fleet of foot soon caught up to the drove, and each singling out his choice quickly dispatched him with an arrow. They could easily have killed more of the antelope, but did not want to kill them just for sport, but for food, and knowing that they had now all that their horses could pack home, they dismounted and proceeded to dress their kill.
After each had finished packing the kill on his horse, Chaske said: "Let us sit down and have a smoke before we start back. Besides, I have something to tell you which I can tell better sitting still than I can riding along." Hake came and sat down opposite his friend, and while they smoked Chaske said: "My friend, we have been together for the last twenty years and I have yet the first time to deceive you in any way, and I know I can truthfully say the same of you. Never have I known you to deceive me nor tell me an untruth. I have no brothers or sisters. The only brother's love I know is yours. The only sister's love I will know will be Pretty Feather's, for brother, last night she told me she loved none but you and would marry you and you only. So, brother, I am going to take my antelope to my sister-in-law's tent and deposit it at her door. Then she will know that her wish will be fulfilled. I thought at first that you had been playing traitor to me and had been making love to her for yourself, but when she explained it all to me and begged me to intercede for her to you, I then knew that I had judged you wrongfully, and that, together with my lost love, made me so quiet and sorrowful last night. So now, brother, take the flower of the nation for your wife, and I will be content to continue through life a lonely bachelor, as never again can I give any woman the place which Pretty Feather had in my heart."
Their pipes being smoked out they mounted their ponies and Chaske started up in a clear, deep voice the beautiful love song of Pretty Feather and his friend Hake.
Such is the love between two friends, who claim to be as brothers among the Indians. Chaske gave up his love of a beautiful woman for a man who was in fact no relation to him.
Hake said, "I will do as you say, my friend, but before I can marry the medicine man's daughter, I will have to go on the warpath and do some brave deed, and will start in ten days." They rode towards home, planning which direction they would travel, and as it was to be their first experience on the warpath, they would seek advice from the old warriors of the tribe.
On their arrival at the village Hake took his kill to their own tent, while Chaske took his to the tent of the Medicine Man, and deposited it at the door and rode off towards home.
The mother of Pretty Feather did not know whether to take the offering or not, but Pretty Feather, seeing by this offering that her most cherished wish was to be granted, told her mother to take the meat and cook it and invite the old women of the camp to a feast in honor of the son-in-law who was soon to keep them furnished with plenty of meat. Hake and his friend sought out all of the old warriors and gained all the information they desired. Every evening Hake visited his intended wife and many happy evenings they spent together.
The morning of the tenth day the two friends left the village and turned their faces toward the west where the camps of the enemy are more numerous than in any other direction. They were not mounted and therefore traveled slowly, so it took about ten days of walking before they saw any signs of the enemy. The old warriors had told them of a thickly wooded creek within the enemies' bounds. The old men said, "That creek looks the ideal place to camp, but don't camp there by any means, because there is a ghost who haunts that creek, and any one who camps there is disturbed all through the night, and besides they never return, because the ghost is Wakan (holy), and the enemies conquer the travelers every time." The friends had extra moccasins with them and one extra blanket, as it was late in the fall and the nights were very cold.
They broke camp early one morning and walked all day. Along towards evening, the clouds which had been threatening all day, hurriedly opened their doors and down came the snowflakes thick and fast. Just before it started snowing the friends had noticed a dark line about two miles in advance of them. Chaske spoke to his friend and said: "If this storm continues we will be obliged to stay overnight at Ghost Creek, as I noticed it not far ahead of us, just before the storm set in." "I noticed it also," said Hake. "We might as well entertain a ghost all night as to lie out on these open prairies and freeze to death." So they decided to run the risk and stay in the sheltering woods of Ghost Creek. When they got to the creek it seemed as if they had stepped inside a big tepee, so thick was the brush and timber that the wind could not be felt at all. They hunted and found a place where the brush was very thick and the grass very tall. They quickly pulled the tops of the nearest willows together and by intertwining the ends made them fast, and throwing their tent robe over this, soon had a cosy tepee in which to sleep. They started their fire and cooked some dried buffalo meat and buffalo tallow, and were just about to eat their supper when a figure of a man came slowly in through the door and sat down near where he had entered. Hake, being the one who was doing the cooking, poured out some tea into his own cup, and putting a piece of pounded meat and marrow into a small plate, placed it before the stranger, saying: "Eat, my friend, we are on the warpath and do not carry much of a variety of food with us, but I give you the best we have."
The stranger drew the plate towards him, and commenced eating ravenously. He soon finished his meal and handed the dish and cup back. He had not uttered a word so far. Chaske filled the pipe and handed it to him. He smoked for a few minutes, took one last draw from the pipe and handed it back to Chaske, and then he said: "Now, my friends, I am not a living man, but the wandering spirit of a once great warrior, who was killed in these woods by the enemy whom you two brave young men are now seeking to make war upon. For years I have been roaming these woods in hopes that I might find some one brave enough to stop and listen to me, but all who have camped here in the past have run away at my approach or fired guns or shot arrows at me. For such cowards as these I have always found a grave. They never returned to their homes. Now I have found two brave men whom I can tell what I want done, and if you accomplish what I tell you to do, you will return home with many horses and some scalps dangling from your belts. Just over this range of hills north of us, a large village is encamped for the winter. In that camp is the man who laid in ambush and shot me, killing me before I could get a chance to defend myself. I want that man's scalp, because he has been the cause of my wanderings for a great many years. Had he killed me on the battlefield my spirit would have at once joined my brothers in the happy hunting grounds, but being killed by a coward, my spirit is doomed to roam until I can find some brave man who will kill this coward and bring me his scalp. This is why I have tried every party who have camped here to listen to me, but as I have said before, they were all cowards. Now, I ask you two brave young men, will you do this for me?"
"We will," said the friends in one voice. "Thank you, my boys. Now, I know why you came here, and that one of you came to earn his feathers by killing an enemy, before he would marry; the girl he is to marry is my granddaughter, as I am the father of the great Medicine Man. In the morning there will pass by in plain sight of here a large party. They will chase the buffalo over on that flat. After they have passed an old man leading a black horse and riding a white one will come by on the trail left by the hunting party. He will be driving about a hundred horses, which he will leave over in the next ravine.
He will then proceed to the hunting grounds and get meat from the different hunters. After the hunters have all gone home he will come last, singing the praises of the ones who gave him the meat. This man you must kill and scalp, as he is the one I want killed. Then take the white and black horse and each mount and go to the hunting grounds. There you will see two of the enemy riding about picking up empty shells. Kill and scalp these two and each take a scalp and come over to the high knoll and I will show you where the horses are, and as soon as you hand me the old man's scalp I will disappear and you will see me no more. As soon as I disappear, it will start in snowing. Don't be afraid as the snow will cover your trail, but nevertheless, don't stop traveling for three days and nights, as these people will suspect that some of your tribe have done this, and they will follow you until you cross your own boundary lines."
When morning came, the two friends sat in the thick brush and watched a large party pass by their hiding place. So near were they that the friends could hear them laughing and talking. After the hunting party had passed, as the spirit had told them, along came the old man, driving a large band of horses and leading a fine looking coal black horse. The horse the old man was riding was as white as snow. The friends crawled to a little brush covered hill and watched the chase after the shooting had ceased. The friends knew it would not be long before the return of the party, so they crawled back to their camp and hurriedly ate some pounded meat and drank some cherry tea. Then they took down their robe and rolled it up and got everything in readiness for a hurried flight with the horses. Scarcely had they got everything in readiness when the party came by, singing their song of the chase. When they had all gone the friends crawled down to the trail and lay waiting for the old man. Soon they heard him singing. Nearer and nearer came the sounds of the song until at last at a bend in the road, the old man came into view. The two friends arose and advanced to meet him. On he came still singing. No doubt he mistook them for some of his own people. When he was very close to them they each stepped to either side of him and before he could make an outcry they pierced his cowardly old heart with two arrows. He had hardly touched the ground when they both struck him with their bows, winning first and second honors by striking an enemy after he has fallen. Chaske having won first honors, asked his friend to perform the scalping deed, which he did. And wanting to be sure that the spirit would get full revenge, took the whole scalp, ears and all, and tied it to his belt. The buffalo beef which the old man had packed upon the black horse, they threw on the top of the old man. Quickly mounting the two horses, they hastened out across the long flat towards the hunting grounds. When they came in sight of the grounds there they saw two men riding about from place to place. Chaske took after the one on the right, Hake the one on the left. When the two men saw these two strange men riding like the wind towards them, they turned their horses to retreat towards the hills, but the white and the black were the swiftest of the tribe's horses, and quickly overtook the two fleeing men. When they came close to the enemy they strung their arrows onto the bowstring and drove them through the two fleeing hunters. As they were falling they tried to shoot, but being greatly exhausted, their bullets whistled harmlessly over the heads of the two friends. They scalped the two enemies and took their guns and ammunition, also secured the two horses and started for the high knoll. When they arrived at the place, there stood the spirit. Hake presented him with the old man's scalp and then the spirit showed them the large band of horses, and saying, "Ride hard and long," disappeared and was seen no more by any war parties, as he was thus enabled to join his forefathers in the happy hunting grounds.
The friends did as the spirit had told them. For three days and three nights they rode steadily. On the fourth morning they came into their own boundary. From there on they rode more slowly, and let the band of horses rest and crop the tops of long grass. They would stop occasionally, and while one slept the other kept watch. Thus they got fairly well rested before they came in sight of where their camp had stood when they had left. All that they could see of the once large village was the lone tent of the great Medicine Man. They rode up on to a high hill and farther on towards the east they saw smoke from a great many tepees. They then knew that something had happened and that the village had moved away.
"My friend," said Chaske, "I am afraid something has happened to the Medicine Man's lodge, and rather than have you go there, I will go alone and you follow the trail of our party and go on ahead with the horses. I will take the black and the white horses with me and I will follow on later, after I have seen what the trouble is."
"Very well, my friend, I will do as you say, but I am afraid something has happened to Pretty Feather." Hake started on with the horses, driving them along the broad trail left by the hundreds of travois. Chaske made slowly towards the tepee, and stopping outside, stood and listened. Not a sound could he hear. The only living thing he saw was Pretty Feather's spotted horse tied to the side of the tent. Then he knew that she must be dead. He rode off into the thick brush and tied his two horses securely. Then he came back and entered the tepee. There on a bed of robes lay some one apparently dead. The body was wrapped in blankets and robes and bound around and around with parfleche ropes. These he carefully untied and unwound. Then he unwrapped the robes and blankets and when he uncovered the face, he saw, as he had expected to, the face of his lost love, Pretty Feather. As he sat gazing on her beautiful young face, his heart ached for his poor friend. He himself had loved and lost this beautiful maiden, and now his friend who had won her would have to suffer the untold grief which he had suffered.
What was that? Could it have been a slight quivering of the nostrils that he had seen, or was it mad fancy playing a trick on him? Closer he drew to her face, watching intently for another sign. There it was again, only this time it was a long, deep drawn breath. He arose, got some water and taking a small stick slowly forced open her mouth and poured some into it. Then he took some sage, dipped it into the water and sprinkled a little on her head and face. There were many parfleche bags piled around the tepee, and thinking he might find some kind of medicine roots which he could use to revive her he started opening them one after the other. He had opened three and was just opening the fourth, when a voice behind him asked: "What are you looking for?" Turning quickly, he saw Pretty Feather looking at him. Overjoyed, he cried, "What can I do so that you can get up and ride to the village with me? My friend and I just returned with a large band of horses and two scalps. We saw this tent and recognized it. My friend wanted to come, but I would not let him, as I feared if he found anything had happened to you he would do harm to himself, but now he will be anxious for my return, so if you will tell me what you need in order to revive you, I will get it, and we can then go to my friend in the village." "At the foot of my bed you will find a piece of eagle fat. Build a fire and melt it for me. I will drink it and then we can go."
Chaske quickly started a fire, got out the piece of fat and melted it. She drank it at one draught, and was about to arise when she suddenly said: "Roll me up quick and take the buffalo hair rope and tie it about my spotted horse's neck; tie his tail in a knot and tie him to the door. Then run and hide behind the trees. There are two of the enemy coming this way."
Chaske hurriedly obeyed her orders, and had barely concealed himself behind the trees, when there came into view two of the enemy. They saw the horse tied to the door of the deserted tent, and knew that some dead person occupied the tepee, so through respect for the dead, they turned out and started to go through the brush and trees, so as not to pass the door. (The Indians consider it a bad omen to pass by the door of a tepee occupied by a dead body, that is, while in the enemy's country). So by making this detour they traveled directly towards where Chaske was concealed behind the tree. Knowing that he would be discovered, and there being two of them, he knew the only chance he had was for him to kill one of them before they discovered him, then he stood a better chance at an even combat. On they came, little thinking that one of them would in a few minutes be with his forefathers.
Chaske noiselessly slipped a cartridge into the chamber of his gun, threw it into action and took deliberate aim at the smaller one's breast. A loud report rang out and the one he had aimed at threw up his arms and fell heavily forward, shot through the heart.
Reloading quickly Chaske stepped out from behind the tree. He could easily have killed the other from his concealed position, but, being a brave young man, he wanted to give his opponent a fair chance. The other had unslung his gun and a duel was then fought between the two lone combatants. They would spring from side to side like two great cats. Then advance one or two steps and fire. Retreat a few steps, spring to one side and fire again. The bullets whistled past their heads, tore up the earth beneath their feet, and occasionally one would hit its mark, only to cause a flesh wound.
Suddenly the enemy aimed his gun and threw it upon the ground. His ammunition was exhausted, and slowly folding his arms he stood facing his opponent, with a fearless smile upon his face, expecting the next moment to fall dead from a bullet from the rifle of Chaske. Not so. Chaske was too honorable and noble to kill an unarmed man, and especially one who had put up such a brave fight as had this man. Chaske advanced and picked up the empty gun. The Toka (enemy) drew from a scabbard at his belt a long bowie knife, and taking it by the point handed it, handle first, to Chaske. This signified surrender. Chaske scalped the dead Toka and motioned for his prisoner to follow him. In the meantime Pretty Feather had gotten up and stood looking at the duel. When she heard the first shot she jumped up and cut a small slit in the tent from which she saw the whole proceedings. Knowing that one or both of them must be wounded, she hurriedly got water and medicine roots, and when they came to the tent she was prepared to dress their wounds.
Chaske had a bullet through his shoulder and one through his hand. They were very painful but not dangerous. The prisoner had a bullet through his leg, also one through the muscle of his left arm. Pretty Feather washed and dressed their wounds, and Chaske went and brought the black and white horses and mounting Pretty Feather upon the white horse, and the prisoner on her spotted one, the three soon rode into the village, and there was a great cry of joy when it was known that Pretty Feather had come back to them again.
Hake, who was in his tent grieving, was told that his friend had returned and with him Pretty Feather. Hearing this good news he at once went to the Medicine Man's tent and found the Medicine Man busily dressing the wounds of his friend and a stranger. The old Medicine Man turned to Hake and said: "Son-in-law, take your wife home with you. It was from grief at your absence that she went into a trance, and we, thinking she was dead, left her for such. Hadn't it been for your friend here, she would surely have been a corpse now. So take her and keep her with you always, and take as a present from me fifty of my best horses."
Hake and his beautiful bride went home, where his adopted mother had a fine large tent put up for them. Presents of cooking utensils, horses, robes and finely worked shawls and moccasins came from every direction, and last of all Chaske gave as a present to his friend the Toka man whom he had taken as prisoner. On presenting him with this gift, Chaske spoke thus: "My friend, I present to you, that you may have him as a servant to look after your large band of horses, this man with whom I fought a two hours' duel, and had his ammunition lasted he would probably have conquered me, and who gave me the second hardest fight of my life.
The hardest fight of my life was when I gave up Pretty Feather. You have them both. To the Toka (enemy) be kind, and he will do all your biddings. To Pretty Feather be a good husband."
So saying, Chaske left them, and true to his word, lived the remainder of his days a confirmed bachelor.
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