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Rolf in the Woods(Chapter33)

2006-09-08 19:39

  CHAPTER XXXIII A Song of Praise

  ROLF was lying by a fire when he came to, Quonab bending over him with a look of grave concern. When he opened his eyes, the Indian smiled; such a soft, sweet smile, with long, ivory rows in its background.

  Then he brought hot tea, and Rolf revived so he could sit up and tell the story of the morning.

  "He is an evil Manito," and he looked toward the dead buck; "we must not eat him. You surely made medicine to bring Skookum."

  "Yes, I made medicine with my mouth," was the answer, "I called, I yelled, when he came at me."

  "It is a long way from here to the cabin," was Quonab's reply. "I could not hear you; Skookum could not hear you; but Cos Cob, my father, told me that when you send out a cry for help, you send medicine, too, that goes farther than the cry. May be so; I do not know: my father was very wise."

  "Did you see Skookum come, Quonab? "

  "No; he was with me hours after you left, but he was restless and whimpered. Then he left me and it was a long time before I heard him bark. It was the 'something- wrong' bark. I went. He brought me here."

  "He must have followed my track all 'round the line."

  After an hour they set out for the cabin. The ravens "Ha-ha-ed" and "Ho-ho-ed" as they went. Quonab took the fateful horn that Rolf had chopped off, and hung it on a sapling with a piece of tobacco and a red yam streamer ', to appease the evil spirit that surely was near. There it hung for years after, until the sapling grew to a tree that swallowed the horn, all but the tip, which rotted away.

  Skookum took a final sniff at his fallen enemy, gave the body the customary expression of a dog's contempt, then led the procession homeward.

  Not that day, not the next, but on the first day of calm, red, sunset sky, went Quonab to his hill of worship; and when the little fire that he lit sent up its thread of smoke, like a plumb-line from the red cloud over bim, he burnt a pinch of tobacco, and, with face and arms upraised in the red light, he sang a new song:

  "The evil one set a trap for my son, But the Manito saved him; In the form of a Skookum he saved him."

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