The story of the Lost Wife
A Sioux Legend
A Dakota girl married a man who promised to treat her kindly, but he did not keep his word. He was unreasonable, fault-finding, and often beat her. Frantic with his cruelty, she ran away. The whole village turned out to search for her, but no trace of the missing wife was to be found.
Meanwhile, the fleeing woman had wandered about all that day and the next night. The next day she met a man, who asked her who she was. She did not know it, but he was not really a man, but the chief of the wolves.
"Come with me," he said, and he led her to a large village.
She was amazed to see here many wolves--gray and black, timber wolves and coyotes. It seemed as if all the wolves in the world were there.
The wolf chief led the young woman to a great tipi and invited her in. He asked her what she ate for food.
"Buffalo meat," she answered.
He called two coyotes and bade them bring what the young woman wanted. They bounded away and soon returned with the shoulder of a fresh-killed buffalo calf.
"How do you prepare it for eating?" asked the wolf chief.
"By boiling," answered the young woman.
Again he called the two coyotes. Away they bounded and soon brought into the tent a small bundle. In it were punk, flint and steel--stolen, it may be, from some camp of men.
"How do you make the meat ready?" asked the wolf chief.
"I cut it into slices," answered the young woman.
The coyotes were called and in a short time fetched in a knife in its sheath. The young woman cut up the calf's shoulder into slices and ate it.
Thus she lived for a year, all the wolves being very kind to her.
At the end of that time the wolf chief said to her, "Your people are going off on a buffalo hunt. Tomorrow at noon they will be here. You must then go out and meet them or they will fall on us and kill us."
The next day at about noon the young woman went to the top of a neighboring knoll. Coming toward her were some young men riding on their ponies. She stood up and held her hands so that they could see her.
They wondered who she was, and when they were close by gazed at her closely.
"A year ago we lost a young woman; if you are she, where have you been," they asked.
"I have been in the wolves' village. Do not harm them," she answered.
"We will ride back and tell the people," they said. "Tomorrow at noon, we shall meet you.
The young woman went back to the wolf village, and the next day went again to a neighboring knoll, though to a different one. Soon she saw the camp coming in a long line over the prairie. First were the warriors, then the women and tents.
The young woman's father and mother were overjoyed to see her. But when they came near her the young woman fainted, for she could not now bear the smell of human kind. When she came to herself she said, "You must go on a buffalo hunt, my father and all the hunters. Tomorrow you must come again, bringing with you the tongues and choice pieces of the kill."
This he promised to do; and all the men of the camp mounted their ponies and they had a great hunt. The next day they returned with their ponies laden with the buffalo meat.
The young woman bade them pile the meat in a great heap between two hills which she pointed out to them. There was so much meat that the tops of the two hills were bridged level between by the meat pile.
In the center of the pile the young woman planted a pole with a red flag. She then began to howl like a wolf, loudly.
In a moment the Earth seemed covered with wolves. They fell greedily on the meat pile and in a short time had eaten the last scrap.
The young woman then joined her own people.
Her husband wanted her to come and live with him again. For a long time she refused. However, at last they became reconciled.
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