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- The Great Salt Lake Trail - 40/86 -

great, strong house, in which he kept all his immense wealth. It was not long until he had bought all the robes and furs for sale in the village, and then he packed them on ponies, and bidding us good-by, said he was going far to the east where the paleface lives, but that he would soon come back, bring us many presents and plenty of blankets, beads, and ribbons, which he would exchange as before for robes and furs. We were sorry to see him go, but, as he promised to return in a few moons, we were much consoled. It was not long until our spies reported something they could not understand coming into our country, and the whole village was in a great state of alarm. Some of the boldest ventured out, and returned with the joyful intelligence that the strange objects our young men had seen was the trader and his people. All the village ran to meet him, and the sight was strange enough indeed. The Crows had in those days never seen a wagon, horse, or ox, and the trader had brought all these things. The wagons they called teepees on rollers; the horses were giants beside the little ponies, and the oxen, all believed were tame buffaloes. There, also, was a squaw, who was perfectly white, and who could not understand anything that was said to her. She wore dresses down to her feet, of which she seemed to be ashamed, and our women said she tied cords tightly about her waist, so as to make it small. She had very long hair, and did not plait but rolled it, and, instead of letting it hang down, wrapped it tightly about her head.

It was not long until the trader had all his wagons unloaded and his store open. He had brought all the women beads and ribbons, and the men brass rings. Besides what he sold, he made many presents; so everybody loved him, for no one had ever before seen so rich and generous a man.

One day he told the Big Chief to come into the back part of the store and he would show him something wonderful. The chief went, wondering what it could be, and when they were alone, the trader drew out a very little barrel and, taking a wooden cup, poured out some black-looking water, which he told the chief to drink. The chief did as desired and immediately felt so jolly he asked for more. The trader promised, if he would never tell any one where he got the black water, he would give him all he wanted. The chief promised, and the trader gave him another cupful. Now the chief danced and sang, and went to his lodge, where he fell down in a deep sleep, and no one could wake him. He slept so long the warriors gathered about the lodge wondering what could ail him, and they were about to go to the trader and demand to know what kind of medicine he had given the chief to make him behave so strangely when the chief woke up and ordered them all to their lodges, and to ask no questions.

Next day the chief went to the trader and said he had had great dreams; that he thought he had slain many of his enemies, and that the black medicine must be very good to make him have such pleasant visions. He begged the trader to give him some more, and he did so. Thus the chief did every day, and all the village wondered; for they believed the trader had bewitched him. In former times the chief had been a very quiet and dignified man, but now he sang, danced in the streets, and publicly hugged the women, so every one thought him crazy. The Crows disliked the conduct of their chief very much, and began to grumble against the trader; for they thought he was to blame for the great change that had come over their chief. Some said he was bewitched, others that the trader had an evil spirit in one of his boxes, and thus they talked, some believing one thing, and some another, but all blaming him. One of the young warriors called a secret council, and the matter was discussed, and it was finally decided that the trader must leave or they would put him to death. A warrior, who was a great friend of the trader, was sent to tell him of the decision of the council, and when he did so, the trader laughed and said if he would come into the back of the store, and never tell anybody, he would show him what ailed the chief. The warrior went, and the trader gave him a ladleful of the black water to drink. Presently he began to sing and dance about, and then went out into the street and sang, which greatly surprised every one, for he had never done so before. The young men gathered about him and asked him what ailed him, but he only said, “Oh, go to the trader and get some of the black water!” So they went to the trader and inquired what kind of black water he had that affected people so strangely; and the trader told them he had only the same kind of water they drank, and brought out his pail, that they all might drink. Each warrior took up the ladle and drank some, and made the trader drink some, and then they sat down to wait and see if it would affect them like the chief and their brother-warrior; but it did not, and they rose up and said, “The trader or our brother lies, and we will see who is the liar.” They went to the warrior's lodge and found him sound asleep, nor could they wake him. Two remained to watch by him, and the others went to their teepees. When the sun was up, the warriors rose, and, seeing the others sitting in his tent, said, “Why are you here, my brothers?” And the eldest of the two warriors replied, “You have lied to us, for the trader has no black water.” The warrior, recollecting his promise not to tell, said, “It is true that the trader has no black water, and who said he had?” They explained to him his conduct of the day before, at which he was greatly astonished, and he declared if such was the case he must have been very sick in his head and not known what he said. Thereupon the warriors withdrew and reported all to their brethren. The warriors were greatly perplexed, and knew not what to do or think, but decided to wait and see.

The chief and warrior were now drunk every day, and the young chief called another council. It was long and stormy in its debate, all the wise men speaking, but no one giving such counsel as the others would accept. At last a young warrior rose and said that he had watched, and that it was true that the trader had a black water which he gave the chief and warrior to drink; for he had made a hole in the wall of the trader's store and through it saw them drinking the black water. He advised them to bring the trader and warrior before them, and he would accuse them to their face of what he had seen, and if they denied the truth he would fight them.

This speech was received with great satisfaction, and the young chief at once sent some warriors to fetch the trader and their brother.

When they were come into the council and seated, the young warrior repeated all he had said, and asked if it were not true that they would fight him.

The warrior who was first asked rose up and said the young warrior lied, and that he was ready to fight him; but when the trader was told to stand up and answer, he, seeing there was no use in denying the matter, confessed all. He said the black water was given him by the white people, a great many of whom drank it, and it made them behave as they had seen the chief and the warrior do. He also told them that after a man drank of it he felt happy, laughed and sang, and when he lay down he dreamed pleasant dreams and slew his enemies.

The curiosity of the warriors was greatly excited and the young chief bade the trader go and bring some of his black water, that they might taste it. He was about to depart when the young warrior who had before spoken rose and desired him to be seated, when he said: “The warriors heard my speech, and it was good. The brother, however, when I asked him if he would tell the council the truth, said I lied, and he would fight me. Let us now go out of the village and fight.”

The young chief asked the drunkard if he had anything to say, when he rose and addressed the council as follows:—

“Oh, my brethren, it is true that I have drunk of the black water, and that I have lied. When the trader first gave it to me to drink, he made me promise that I would never tell what it was, or where I got it, and he has many times since said if I told any one he would never give me any more to drink. Oh, my brethren, the black water is most wonderful, and I have come to love it better than my life, or the truth. The fear of never having any more of it to drink made me lie, and I have nothing more to say but that I am ready to fight.”

Then the council adjourned, and every one went out to see the warriors fight. They were both men of great skill and bravery, and the whole village came to see the battle. He who drank the black water was the best spears-man in the tribe, and every one expected to see the other warrior killed.

The spears were brought, and when they were given to the combatants it was seen that the hand of him who had lied shook so he could hardly hold his spear. At this his friends rallied him, and asked him if he was afraid. He replied that his heart was brave, but that his hand trembled, though not with fear, for it had shook so for many days.

Then the battle began, and at the second throw of the spears he with the trembling hand was clove through the heart, and killed instantly, while the other warrior did not receive a wound.

After the fight was over, the warriors all went to the trader's lodge, and he brought in a pail more than a quart of the black water, which he gave in small quantities to each warrior. When they had swallowed it, they began to dance and sing, and many lay down on the ground and slept as though they were dead. Next day they came again and asked for more black water; and so they came each day, dancing and singing, for more than a week.

One morning the trader said he would give them no more black water unless they paid him for it, and this they did. The price was at first one robe for each sup sufficient to make them sleep, but, as the black water became scarce, two robes, and finally three were paid for a sleep. Then the trader said he had no more except a little for himself, and this he would not sell; but the warriors begged so hard for some he gave them a sleep for many robes. Even the body-robes were soon in the hands of the trader, and the warriors were very poor, but still they begged for more black water, giving a pony in exchange for each sleep. The trader took all the ponies, and then the warriors offered their squaws, but there was no more black water, and the trader said he would go and fetch some.

He packed all the robes on the ponies and was about to set out,

The Great Salt Lake Trail - 40/86

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