"It came about in this way," said Souwanas, "and it is such a sad story about beautiful Waubenoo."
"Will it make me cry?" said the tender-hearted Minnehaha. "If so, I do not think I want to hear it."
"Stay and hear it, you little pussy," said Sagastao. "I am sure it is not worse than the Babes in the Wood."
"Well, you always cry first, when we read that story together," said Minnehaha.
At this the lad had nothing to say, for in spite of his apparent brusqueness his heart melted more quickly, and his eyes filled easier with tears, at a pathetic story, than did his sister's.
"Well, go ahead, Souwanas," said Sagastao. "We each have a pocket handkerchief, and when they are used up you can lend us a blanket."
At this quaint speech everybody laughed, and then the old man began his second story about Waubenoo. "It all came about because little children have long tongues, and this story should warn little children that, while they have two eyes and two ears, they have but one tongue, and that they should not at any time talk about or repeat half of what they have seen and heard.
"The little brothers and sisters of Waubenoo had been warned that they should say nothing about the visit of Nanahboozhoo to their wigwam. In fact, Nanahboozhoo was such a queer fellow that he did not at any time want people to be gossiping about him, and, if he had done any good deed for anyone, he did not wish them to be ever speaking about it. Then another reason why Nanahboozhoo did not want them to talk about his visit and help was the fear that Gray Wolf, finding out how it was that he had received such a beating, would be more bitter and revengeful against Waubenoo and would again try to get her in his power. The little children were, of course, delighted that their wigwam was no longer visited by Gray Wolf, whose coming had always filled them with terror, while Waubenoo was so pleased at having thus got rid of him that she was happier and brighter than she had been for a long time. It was not long before some of the other Indians noticed the change. They were surprised that Gray Wolf had so suddenly stopped his visits, and that he seemed so dejected and sullen. Naturally their curiosity was excited, and they were anxious to find out what had happened."
"Better to have been minding their own business," broke in young Sagastao, who seemed to see the drift of the story.
"Be quiet, and do not interrupt Souwanas," said Minnehaha, who often felt called upon to restrain her brother's impulsiveness.
"Of course," Souwanas continued, "Gray Wolf had so suffered that he had very little to say, and if ever teased about Waubenoo he fell into a great passion.
"Waubenoo herself was too sensible to gratify their idle curiosity, but the very return of her brightness, and her unwillingness to talk about the matter, only added to the foolish desires of outsiders to find out what had really occurred. So some of these naughty busybodies began questioning the children when they could get them away from Waubenoo, for in her presence they were as mute as she was. They pestered and bothered the children and tried in various ways before they succeeded. But one day, while Waubenoo was away overhauling her traps, some of those wicked meddlers visited her wigwam and succeeded in getting one of the smallest ones—I just forget now whether it was a boy or a girl."
"A girl, of course," shouted Sagastao.
"No, indeed; I am sure it was a naughty boy," said Minnehaha.
"Well, no matter which; but one of them said: 'Nanahboozhoo!'
"This one word, Nanahboozhoo, was quite enough to startle and alarm them, for Nanahboozhoo was also much feared, as he sometimes did dreadful things.
"The fact that Nanahboozhoo had been in their very midst, although they were a long time in hearing anything more than the one word from the now frightened children, was quite enough to excite the whole village, for the news was soon spread abroad by the tattlers.
"Such busybodies could not be satisfied with only hearing that Nanahboozhoo had visited the wigwam of Waubenoo. Of course they wanted to hear about what he said and did, and I am sorry to have to say that after a while, with coaxing and presents, they managed to get from the children the whole delightfully exciting story.
"When Gray Wolf, who was so jeered and laughed at by all who dare, heard from the gossipers how it had happened that he had received such a thrashing he was doubly wild and furious.
"When Waubenoo found out that all was known about how Nanahboozhoo had helped her she was very sorry that her little brothers and sisters had been so naughty and disobedient. She also knew that now she would have to be more careful than ever against the movements of Gray Wolf. But the fact was that he had been so cowed by his beating that he was afraid to openly attack her, lest she should get Nanahboozhoo to help her again and it might be worse for him than it was at his first meeting. But he treasured up revengeful feelings in his heart and resolved that at some time or other he would dreadfully punish her.
"Some years passed by, and the older children, next to Waubenoo, were able to do most of the hunting and fishing as well as to be on guard against any of the evil doings of Gray Wolf. Thus they were able, in a measure, to repay their sister, whom they dearly loved, although they were so thoughtless, for all her great kindness to them.
"One fall there came to the village a splendid Indian hunter. He was of the same tribe, but lived with his people, most of the time, at a distant part of the country. He was so pleased with this village, where dwelt Waubenoo, that he decided to remain for the winter and hunt. He was such a very pleasant fellow and such a great hunter that he soon made many friends. Gray Wolf was the only man who seemed to hate him, and he was even so rash as to insult him openly in an Indian gathering.
"Soquaatum, for this was the young warrior's name, stood the insults of Gray Wolf for some time, then, when he saw that some of the young hunters began to think he was afraid of Gray Wolf, he suddenly sprang at him and knocked him down, and then seizing him by his belt, he shook him as easily and thoroughly as a wildcat would a rabbit. Then he threw him from him and sat down among the people as though nothing had happened.
"That evening, when he and the relatives with whom he lived were seated around the fire in the wigwam, he heard for the first time the story of Waubenoo: of her great industry, her love for her little brothers and sisters, and how she had been threatened by Gray Wolf and then befriended by Nanahboozhoo.
"This story very much interested Soquaatum, and especially as in his hunting he had met her younger brother, now a fine strapping hunter, and had become very fond of him, although he was much younger. So he resolved that as soon as he could he would visit her wigwam and seek her acquaintance."
"Ho! Ho! So this is to be a love story," said Sagastao.
"Be quiet, do," said his sister. "All love stories do not end well. Remember, there was Gray Wolf!"
Souwanas profited by the interruption, for it gave him an opportunity to light his pipe with flint and steel, and he then resumed the story.
"Soon after Soquaatum arrayed himself in his most attractive costume and called at the tent of Waubenoo. His excuse was that he wanted to see her brother and arrange some hunting excursion.
"Waubenoo, who had often heard her brother speak of his great skill as a hunter, and had also heard how easily and thoroughly he had handled Gray Wolf, received him most kindly and at once made him welcome.
"Well, it is not surprising that he should soon fall in love with Waubenoo, and so pleased was she with his manner, as well as his attractive appearance, that she became very fond of him, and it was not many days after their first meeting before it was noised abroad that Soquaatum and Waubenoo were lovers.
"Soquaatum remained until about the middle of the winter. Then he returned to his distant home to make all preparations for receiving his wife, for whom he was to come in the spring.
"Gray Wolf was, of course, furious when he heard that Waubenoo was to be married, and to the man who had humiliated him in the presence of so many people. Though angry and revengeful, he was at heart a cowardly fellow, and now that Waubenoo's brother was full-grown he was afraid of him, as well as of Soquaatum while he was in the neighborhood. But his fears did not prevent him from thinking of schemes for revenge which, however, came to nothing, because the friends of Waubenoo were so vigilant and well prepared.
"At length one of his plans succeeded, and this is how it happened:
"Gray Wolf enlisted a young Indian who was equally bad with himself to help him. As Soquaatum had now been gone for some weeks to his home, which was far east from that region, Gray Wolf and his wicked companion went a good long distance—many miles—in that direction. There they made a hunting lodge and laid their plans to capture Waubenoo. Then Gray Wolf's companion went back and remained secreted near the wigwam of Waubenoo. One night he saw her two brothers leave, about midnight, for some distant traps that would take them all day to reach.
"As soon as this bad fellow was satisfied that they were well out of sight and hearing he rushed up to the tent of Waubenoo and hastily aroused her from her sleep. He had arrayed himself as though he was gaining on her, she began calling: 'Soquaatum! Soquaatum!' Alas! he was far away, but there was another who, fortunately, was near. Nanahboozhoo had been out hunting and he had a sled which he was dragging, loaded with game. He was surprised as he heard this calling, 'Soquaatum! Soquaatum!' and as he continued listening it became hoarse and then only like a whisper. He could stand it no longer; he rushed through the woods and there he saw Waubenoo, dashing along on snow-shoes, calling in a low whisper: 'Soquaatum! Soquaatum!' while not a hundred feet behind her was Gray Wolf, yelling in triumph that he would soon capture her. Unfortunately Nanahboozhoo was not in a very good humor that day. He had heard of some little children that had been tattling about him, and he had heard that the children in the tent of Waubenoo had told about his visit.
"However, when he saw who it was that was in danger, and heard her cry to him for help when she saw him, and especially when he saw who it was that was after her, he quickly turned Waubenoo into a bird and without any trouble she quickly flew up into a tree out of the reach of danger.
"Ever since that Waubenoo has been the Whisky Jack, and if you will listen to Whisky Jack when he is not scolding or clamoring at your camp for food his voice is like that of the lost Indian maiden, with a bad cold, calling for her lover."
"What did Nanahboozhoo do to Gray Wolf?" said Sagastao.
"Hush," said Minnehaha. "Don't you know Nanahboozhoo doesn't like to have children talk about him?"
This excessive caution on the part of the little girl vastly amused Souwanas. Then he told them that Nanahboozhoo turned Gray Wolf into a dog and made him draw home his heavy load of meat.