24.THE STRANGE DREAM
A warrior and his wife once had a beautiful boy, for whom they made many plans. But when he grew up, and reached the right age, he would not consent to the fast. They wished him to blacken his face with charcoal, and not to eat anything for three days. But he threw away the charcoal, and when they denied him food, he ate birds’ eggs and the heads of fish which had been cast away.
At length one day he came home, and, taking some coals, blackened his face. Then he went out of the lodge and lay down on the grass to sleep. As he lay there, he had a wonderful dream. He thought a beautiful maiden came to him, and said, “Onawataquto, come with me. Step in my tracks.” He arose and did so, and felt himself mounting up over the tree-tops, until he reached the sky.
The maiden entered through a small opening, and he followed her. Looking around, he found himself on a beautiful, grassy plain. A tall lodge stood in the distance. She led him to it, and he saw that it was divided into two parts. In one end there were bows, arrows, clubs, and spears, and other things that belong to a warrior. In the other end were strings of colored beads, bright pieces of cloth, and fancy moccasins, such as belong to a maiden. On a frame was a broad belt, beautifully colored, that she was weaving.
“My brother will soon be home,” she said, “and I do not wish him to see you, so come until I hide you.” She put him in a corner and spread the belt over him.
In a short time the brother returned, and sat down in his end of the lodge. He took down his pipe, and began to smoke. Then, in a little while, he said, “Sister, when are you going to stop this practice? Do you forget that the Greatest of the Spirits has forbidden you to take the children of the earth? I know whom you have behind that belt. Come forth, Onawataquto.”
When the young man came forth, he presented him with bows and arrows and a pipe of red stone. Now this meant that he was married to the maiden.
After that the brother used to take him with him over the beautiful plains, and he found everything very peaceful. Then he began to notice that the brother left the lodge each morning, and did not return until night. He asked him what he did when he was away.
“Come with me, and I shall show you,” said the brother.
So they set off early next morning, and walked on for a long time. At last Onawataquto began to feel hungry.
“Wait a few minutes,” said the brother, “and I shall show you how I get food.”
When they reached a spot where they could see down to the earth below, he said, “Now sit down and watch.” And Onawataquto did so.
When he looked down, he could see the earth quite plainly. In one village he saw a war party getting ready. In another he saw them dancing, and in another, a group of children playing beside a lodge.
“Do you see that beautiful boy down there?” asked the brother.
“Yes,” he replied. Suddenly the brother darted something from his hand at the child, and he fell senseless.
The parents rushed out and carried him into the lodge, and made great wailing. Then they saw people gather around the lodge, and the medicine man arrived. He addressed himself to the spirit brother, and asked him what sacrifice he desired.
“I shall allow the boy to get better if you will make me the sacrifice of a white dog,” answered the brother, through the opening in the sky.
They at once caught a white dog, and killed and roasted it. The meat was then put on dishes, which at once floated up to the spirit brother.
“Now eat,” he said to Onawataquto. “This is the way I get all my meals.”
After a while the young man grew tired of the quiet days, and desired to go back to the earth. His wife was angry when she heard him say this, and said she would not let him go. But after a while she consented, and said, “You may go; but remember you are not to marry any of the earth maidens, for at any time I can draw you back here.”
Next morning Onawataquto found himself lying on the grass by his father’s lodge, with his face still blackened. His father and mother and all his friends were standing near him in glad surprise. They told him he had been away a year.
For some days he went around very quietly; then he began to forget his dream. After a while he could hardly remember it at all.
In a few months, he married one of the maidens of the tribe. That night he went out of his father’s lodge, and was never seen again.
It is said that the spirit maiden had drawn him back to her home in the sky.