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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 191

This manitou piled the heavy blocks of Devil's Door-Way and set up Black Monument and the Pedestalled Bowlder as thrones where he might sit and view the landscape by day—for the Indians appreciated the beautiful in nature and supposed their gods did, too—while at night he could watch the dance of the frost spirits, the aurora borealis. Cleft Rock was sundered by one of his darts aimed at an offending Indian, who owed his life to the manitou's bad aim. The Sacrifice Stone is shown where, at another time, a girl was immolated to appease his anger. Cleopatra's Needle, as it is now called, is the body of an ancient chief, who was turned into stone as a punishment for prying into the mysteries of the lake, a stone on East Mountain being the remains of a squaw who had similarly offended. On the St. Croix the Devil's Chair is pointed out where he sat in state. He had his play spells, too, as you may guess when you see his toboggan slide in Weber Canon, Utah, while Cinnabar Mountain, in the Yellowstone country, he scorched red as he coasted down.

The hunter wandering through this Wisconsin wilderness paused when he came within sight of the lake, for all game within its precincts was in the manitou's protection; not a fish might be taken, and not even a drop of water could be dipped to cool the lips of the traveller. So strong was this fear of giving offence to the manitou that Indians who were dying of wounds or illness, and were longing for a swallow of water, would refuse to profane the lake by touching their lips to it.





THE KEUSCA ELOPEMENT

Keusca was a village of the Dakota Indians on the Wisconsin bluffs of the Mississippi eighteen hundred miles from its mouth. The name means, to overthrow, or set aside, for it was here that a tribal law was broken. Sacred Wind was a coquette of that village, for whose hand came many young fellows wooing with painted faces. For her they played the bone flute in the twilight, and in the games they danced and leaped their hardest and shot their farthest and truest when she was looking on. Though they amused her she cared not a jot for these suitors, keeping her love for the young brave named the Shield—and keeping it secret, for he was her cousin, and cousins might not wed. If a relative urged her to marry some young fellow for whom she had no liking, she would answer that if forced to do so she would fling herself into the river, and spoke of Winonah and Lovers' Leap.

She was afraid to wed the Shield, for the medicine-men had threatened all who dared to break the marriage laws with unearthly terrors; yet when the Shield had been absent for several weeks on the war-path she realized that life without his companionship was too hollow to be endured—and she admired him all the more when he returned with two scalps hanging at his belt. He renewed his wooing. He allayed her fears by assurances that he, too, was a medicine-man and could counteract the spells that wizards might cast on them. Then she no longer repressed the promptings of her heart, but yielded to his suit. They agreed to elope that night.


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